Ski Racer Mikaela Shiffrin Shares Her Thoughts on Race Day and the Importance of Family
What does the average 18-year-old girl think about while riding a chairlift?
To be sure, it’s debatable whether that’s a suitable topic for in-depth investigation.
But let’s say that same 18-year-old girl wasn’t so average.
Let’s say that at her young age she’s already snapped up nine World Cup wins, and the chair she’s riding is at Russia’s Rosa Khutor ski area and it’s ushering her to the start gate for her first run in the Woman’s Slalom at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
What thoughts are running through a young girl’s mind in that circumstance?
We recently caught up with U.S. ski racer Mikaela Shiffrin, now 19, while she was out on an outreach tour on behalf of her primary sponsor Barilla.
Barilla’s “Share the Table” initiative raises awareness of the importance of families sharing meal times together as a way to stay more deeply involved and connected.
Inside Mikaela’s Mind
Of course, before dinner is served, there is work to be done. We asked Mikaela what it was like on race day.
“For my first run, I was really excited to ski, but I was a little sick that day,” she says. “I had been using [medication] and was hoping I wouldn’t get congested, I was a little worried that I might start feeling bad before the run, but I was feeling pretty good and I was just really excited to race.”
The slight cold she got came after racing in soggy weather for the Woman’s Giant Slalom earlier in the week.
It was Mikaela’s first Olympic appearance. Fifth place on a World stage is impressive to most, but Mikaela was disappointed with her GS result.
She carried that energy with her to the slalom event three days later where her she faced off with Austria’s Marlies Schild. This was Schild’s third Winter Olympics, and coming into the race she already had three Olympic medals and was the 2011 World Cup Slalom Champion.
Mikaela finished her first run 1.34 seconds ahead of Schild – a lifetime in the ski racing arena – and she had plenty of time to think about the impressive time on her second chairlift ride.
While on the chair Mikaela says she was listening to her music when the song “Atlas” by Coldplay came on, and its lyrics seemed to fit the moment almost perfectly:
Some far away
Some search for gold
Some dragon to slay
Heaven we hope is just up the road
Show me the way, lord because I am about to explode
Carry your world, I’ll carry your world
Carry your world, I’ll carry your world.
– Coldplay “Atlas”
“It’s one of the theme songs for the second Hunger Games movie, and I love those movies, and I was thinking about the movie, and the theme of the song, and then all of a sudden I started thinking about my second run and what I wanted to do with it, and I was like ‘wait a second, I could win this,’” she says.
“Just then the realization hit me that I could win my first Olympic medal so I started getting a little emotional and I was like, ‘snap out of it.’”
If she was too comfortable in her lead after her first run, Mikaela created some unintentional drama on her second run after she caught an awkward edge and took a wide turn on a gate that nearly took her down.
It’s worth noting that Mikaela’s skiing idol is Bode Miller, who made a career of high performance finishes despite careening disastrously close to falling on the course.
“Everybody was like ‘You gave me a heart attack’ and I was like, ‘Well I gave myself a heart attack!’” laughs Mikaela.
Regardless of the hiccup, she finished .53 seconds ahead of Schild to win Gold, a dream that was 16 years in the making for her and her family.
NBC’s replay coverage showed Mikaela’s father Jeff tearing up in the stands, and more of her family cheering wildly from their home in Massachusetts. Jeff Shiffrin raced at Dartmouth University and her mom Eileen raced through high school. The family now lives in Colorado.
“They both know a lot about skiing, they love the technique of it, so when I was out on the hill, the one thing I heard my dad tell me all the time is ‘knees to skis, hands in front,’ he wanted to get it into my head that I need to be balanced and forward on my skis,” she says.
The Family That Skis Together, Eats Together?
Meanwhile Mikaela’s strong family background seems like a very appropriate fit with Barilla.
To better understand family meal times, Barilla surveyed 2,000 respondents across the nation. The results showed that 76 percent of respondents say dinner is the most important way to connect as a family, yet results of showed that meal time is more disjointed now than ever with one in four families feeling disconnected.
As part of its Share the Table initiative, Barilla invites everyone to follow along and share personal mealtime experiences using the hash tag #ShareTheTable. Barilla and Mikaela encourage you to share a group shot of your family (#fammie), a messy kitchen, a delicious meal or maybe one that didn’t turn out quite right on social media.
For every post using #ShareTheTable, Barilla will donate 10 meals to needy families through Feeding America.
For more information, check out this Share the Table video at www.ShareTheTable.com and on YouTube.
Thank you so much to both Mikaela and Troy for taking the time to chat and for sharing this post with Braveskimom.com! It’s hard to argue with the importance of a family sharing a meal together.
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