Eileen and Mikaela Shiffrin.
By Taylor Brandt, Jr. Web Ambassador
Mikaela Shiffrin is the teenager who is dominating the Alpine Skiing World Cup. Shiffrin made her World Cup debut on March 11, 2011 at age 15. She is now 19 years old and is the reigning Olympic gold medalist and World Championship in slalom. Shiffrin has won nine slalom World Cups and one giant slalom World Cup and has 17 World Cup podiums. Shiffrin has been racing on the World Cup circuit for all of four years and has already achieved more than most ever will.
I think she had a head start on it at an early age but also had a family who really supported her and many other great support people along the way and she has ALWAYS loved to ski.
As to the secret of Shiffrin’s very early success her mom is convinced that it was her love of skiing that got her to the top so quickly. But every racer on the World Cup circuit loves skiing so what really set Shiffrin apart from others so early?
I recently got the chance to talk to Mikaela Shiffrin’s mother, Eileen Shiffrin, to find out the details of Shiffrin’s upbringing and hopefully uncover the secrets to her success.
“My husband and I grew up in skiing families, not big time ski racing legacies but families which loved skiing and admired ski racing as well,” tells Eileen.
Mikaela Shiffrin comes from a family of ski racers. Her dad ski raced. Her mom ski raced. Her brother ski races. Both of her parents raced in the Masters Circuit and her brother races for Denver University. It seems appropriate that Shiffrin would race as well. But who would have guessed that the youngest of them all would be the most successful in the sport?
“I LOVED sports.”
It seems natural that Mikaela Shiffrin would follow the same pathway as her mom. As a kid Shiffrin played many sports. Some of which were: rollerblading, skate boarding, wind surfing, tennis, karate, soccer, biking, dirt biking, Nordic skiing, and ice staking. As a kid Shiffrin was very active playing all kinds of sports and trying to keep up with her brother.
“I think coaches are tougher on boys than girls in general.”
This was an observation that Eileen Shiffrin made after years of having both a son and a daughter in the same sport. Maybe Mikaela saw that her brother’s coaches were pushing him harder and that helped her push herself harder. Maybe while trying to keep up with her brother as a kid Shiffrin slowly started to inch her way away from the skiing abilities of other girls her age.
“We always took it one step at a time and tried to always deal with here and now instead of imagining too much about what might be,” adds Eileen.
Maybe the key for Shiffrin was not thinking ahead. Maybe it was not thinking too much at all and just letting what happened with her results happen. Maybe as Shiffrin slowly started to get better she worked on not over thinking anything and just skiing like she knew she could.
Lots of time on snow and having two parents and a brother who she loved skiing with and who would help her with her skiing.
Maybe for Shiffrin her success came to her because of her excessive amount of time on snow. Maybe it was because of her great support team that could always help her with her skiing. Or maybe it was just simply her love of the sport and nothing else that got her to her success.
“For our family I would see success as doing one’s best at whatever we are doing,” concudes Eileen.
Maybe the key to Mikaela Shiffrin’s success was always striving to do her best and always believing see could do better. Or maybe there is no one key to her early success. Maybe Shiffrin’s reason for success is millions of little things, certainly too many to name.
TAYLOR BRANDT (VAIL, COLORADO)
I am a 13 year old alpine ski racer at Ski and Snowboard Club Vail. I am in eighth grade and I have a passion for skiing and writing. I have all male coaches and everyday I am struggling to prove to them that girls are just as tough as guys. I am extremely happy to be given this opportunity to write articles about amazing female athletes who proved that they are just as tough as guys.
Other stories written by Taylor:
Fast Females in the Spotlight: Karen Ghent