Three Words with ...
How can getting better be more powerful than being the best? Discover the success secrets behind Mikaela Shiffrin’s career.
As the youngest Olympic slalom ski champion – and with a medal haul anyone would be proud of – Mikaela Shiffrin has already written herself into the history books. Here are the three words that have defined her career to date and that will help her shape the legacy she wants to leave behind.
As a kid, the coolest thing is just to be able to relate to somebody you look up to. For me, it was thinking I’m like Bode Miller. No matter how good I was, I could still compare my video to that of my favorite skiers and say: “I have to get better”.
At the same time, I was looking up to my older brother, who also ski raced. I always thought “well, I’m going to try to beat him”. I always trained with the guys because I was motivated by trying to be as close or faster than them if I could. So, at the age of 12 I decided that if I’m beating the 12-year-olds, maybe I can try to be as fast as the 13-year-olds or the 16-year-olds.
What keeps me coming back to skiing is my love for it. At six years old, I skied on a racing course with my family. My brother and I loved it. It kept my family together, doing something incredible like this sport.
Although skiing is a male-dominated sport, I’ve been lucky to not experience the inequalities which exist in the sport thanks to my family. My mom is one of my ski coaches, and she travels with me.
People argue moms are not meant to be on the hill in this sport, especially not as a coach. The only thing that convinces them is to see the success we continue to have as a team, in a sense. She paved the way, she’s leading me and she’s still teaching me how to ski.
As part of my legacy, I want to end my career having made the sport better, more progressive.
There is always another level. A level to get faster. Just like in any sport, when you’re at the top, you start to become an innovator.
Like everybody, I have plenty of insecurities. What the sport has taught me is to accept your insecurities, live life through them, and be happy with who you are.