AVON — Following a ski training camp in New Zealand, Eagle-Vail’s Mikaela Shiffrin returned home for a brief break before focusing her sights on the 2015 season.
The 19 year old is still basking in the glow of a gold medal slalom win at the Sochi Winter Olympics, but now entering the 2014-15 season, she’s looking to expand her realm beyond the slalom.
“The dream would be if I could race all three events (slalom, giant slalom and super-G) at the World Champs,” she said of the 2015 World Alpine Ski Championships in Vail. “I’d like to hold the title in slalom and get that GS place closer to first.”
Of course racing super-G depends on how the season goes, she said.
“It can be very distracting to race three events, so we’ll have to see how it goes. I still have things I want to accomplish in the slalom and GS,” she said.
The World Championships might very well be the next stage for a major win for Shiffrin. She had a breakthrough performance at the 2013 Beaver Creek World Cup, enjoying a newfound confidence and a podium finish in front of a home crowd, and that hill will also be featured at the World Championships, she pointed out.
And will she be there to win it? Always, she assured fans at a recent autograph session at The Westin Riverfront Resort at Avon, where she trains when at home.
“If I’m in the starting gate, I’m there to win. Even if I skied terribly and came in last place, I’m still looking at the scoreboard wondering if I won,” she said, laughing. “I always ski to win; lets get that out there.”
To help expand her repertoire of disciplines, Shiffrin has been working with the U.S. Ski Team’s new strength and conditioning coach, who has her focusing on their her core, agility and balance. Locals might spot her in the gym doing a mixture of unconventional exercises that include jumping from medicine ball to medicine ball and balancing on a slackline. A section of The Westin gym, called Mikaela’s Corner, is dedicated to her training and includes a variety of her chosen equipment, such as slacklines and TRX bands.
The new workout regimen has been exhausting, she admitted. In the height of her dryland training, she spends up to six hours training each day, covering everything from agility to strength to cardio. The new balance and coordination exercises challenged her at the beginning, but have made a big difference, she said.
“Everything on (the training) list was something I originally thought was out of my range of abilities. I always say that I’m not that great of an athlete, I just happen to be OK on skis,” she said. “But within three weeks, I was able to do all the new exercises. You’d be surprised — most pro athletes don’t think they can do it either. It’s a progression.”
During her short stay at home, she’s enjoying the warm weather and visiting family and friends — typical summer vacation stuff. She’s still very much a teenager, giggling and joking about boys and other “girl stuff.” But with the expanding collection of medals and trophies also comes a growing mental maturity.
“I always say, ‘It’s must me and the hill; drama holds you back,’” she said. “There were years that I was a very dramatic little girl, especially when it has to do with crushes. Once I thought I was heartbroken because of some boy, and I had a bad training day. After that, I said I’d never let social things get in the way of my training again.”
Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 and email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @mwongvail.
“The dream would be if I could race all three events (slalom, giant slalom and super-G) at the World Champs. I’d like to hold the title in slalom and get that GS place closer to first.”
Slalom Olympic gold medalist