Shiffrin is better than me of course
About four years ago, I run through the corridors of the Hermitage hotel, in Soldeu.
"Hurry, hurry!" calls Megan Harrod.
Megan Harrod is the agent of Mikaela Shiffrin (28).
And Mikaela Shiffrin is the Roger Federer of skiing.
The Leo Messi.
The Usain Bolt.
Mikaela Shiffrin is the best skier in history. He has won 87 World Cup events, more than anyone else, more than Ingemar Stenmark (86) and Lindsey Vonn (82), and as we run through the halls together, fans who see us jump out of their seats and come after us. , as if Shiffrin was the light.
And they form groups, and a child takes the selfie and the mother claps and shouts:
-Yes Yes Yes!
And more and more people come.
And Megan Harrod is alarmed:
"Hurry, hurry!" -repeat.
This is crazy.
We finally reach a quiet room, a corner with sofas and a fireplace, and here the parishioners contemplate the scene in silence.
Mikaela Shiffrin talks with La Vanguardia.
Four years have passed since you last saw us. It was right here, at the 2019 Ski World Cup finals. So you had 60 World Cup victories. He was still far from reaching Stenmark's 86...
He couldn't think he would reach 87. So they said that if he kept winning races at that rate (17 a year), he would reach the record in two seasons. But in 2020 things did not work out. So it wasn't clear then, and that's why I have such a hard time believing it now.
We are in the era of impossible records in sports. Nadal and Djokovic in tennis. Usain Bolt in athletics. Messi with the Ballon d'Ors. You are a legend like them. Does it feel like that?
How not? It is!
But I don't feel like that. I wonder if they feel that way. Or if they just want to be the best at what they do. I don't know how a legend must feel. Do you get me? I think of them and I think they are out of this world.
(At the time of the interview, Shiffrin has collected a new World Cup podium. She has been third in the Andorra slalom, after Petra Vlhova and Leona Popovic. She poses with the Crystal Globe that accredits her as champion of the year in discipline. He has also won the Crystal Globe for the general classification).
Stenmark and your boyfriend, Alexander Aamodt Kilde (Crystal Globe Descending), say that you will reach one hundred victories.
After everything I've been through, with the death of my father (Jeff was also one of his main technical advisors; he passed away in 2020), I came to think that I no longer cared about winning more, that I had already given everything . There are no guaranteed wins. There is only guaranteed sacrifice. What you can give. But, a hundred, that seems so far away...
Why does Stenmark say that you are better than him?
Don't know! I do not think it is. And I don't feel that way either. He is one of the reasons why this sport has risen over the years. It has been motivation for hundreds of athletes, myself included. I will never get used to someone like that saying those things about me.
He told me about his father's death. How has his life changed since then?
It has been an apprenticeship. I think that in the last three years I have learned about life and myself through sport. And what I understand is that I must distinguish a trauma, mourning when someone close to you dies, or a terrible injury. People aren't usually honest about it, but it's something that's in your career and you have to manage it. You have to know when you are sad. And you must understand that you are no longer the same person. For the past three years, all I've wanted to do is go back in time. And that's the one thing I can't do. I have more good days now than last year, and than the one before. But there are still days when I have a hard time getting out of bed and finding the motivation to ski.
Did you think about quitting?
At first, there were weeks where I thought I would never ski again. But I found my energy in skiing. There were days when I needed to scream. And my way of screaming was going out to train and ski, even if it was twice as slow as usual. But get out.
And did that give you another perspective in the face of defeats?
Losing days are tougher. Because I want to talk to him. And I wish he could help me like he did. And my mother, too. She has given me more perspective: if I don't win, I understand what could be worse, and how much worse it could be. And I know that dark moments are coming in my life. I would like to believe that something as complicated as losing my father will not happen. But now I understand that other people around me will not be there, and I don't know who he will be.
Four years ago he told me that he was thinking of improving in the descent. Have you worked on it?
I have done. And I have improved in some things. But then I believed in all the possibilities. He thought that he would win everything, also in the descent. Now I have understood, and that is hard, that winning in such specialized events is not going to be easy for me. Beat Sofia Goggia...? And when I have played another three tests in a week? That is becoming almost impossible.
What is the difference between being a specialist in slalom or in the descent? Is it speed? Concentration?
Slalom and downhill are determined by the way you ski. The technique and position are different. On the descent, you have to analyze speed and distances. In the slalom, the position, the centimeters and the gates rule. In the slalom, you can go down without having checked the track. On the descent, you have to know exactly where you are going at all times. Because there may be ice. And you reach enormous speeds. Both are skiing, but they are radically different sports.
And what do you prefer? Skiing or being interviewed?
Skiing, without a doubt. But I understand that people want to know me. What's hard is staying humble when you spend a lot of time talking about yourself and are reminded of all you've done.
(This Sunday, Shiffrin returns to the scene in Andorra, in the giant)