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Aspen Peak - 2017 - Issue 1 - Summer

Aspen Peak - Niche Media - Aspen living at its peak

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Shiffrin during her first slalom run at the 2017 FIS Ski World Championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland, where she won her third consecutive slalom world championship. ASPENPEAK-MAGAZINE.COM  95 OPPOSITE PAGE: PHOTOGRAPHY BY ALAIN GROSCLAUDE/AGENCE ZOOM/GETTY IMAGES. THIS PAGE: ERICH SPIESS/ASP/RED BULL The family moved to New Hampshire when Shiffrin was 7, and she fol- lowed her brother to Burke Mountain Academy, in Vermont, a few years later. She had taken so well to Burke and its coaches and students that once the family moved back to Vail when she was 14, she grew depressed and unmoti- vated. That winter term, Jeff and Eileen Shiffrin sent their daughter back to Burke. "That was the beginning of what really helped develop me into the skier I am today," she says. It was also emblematic of her parents' unconditional support. Both grew up skiing and ski racing, and fostered the same love in their children. Eileen had taken time off from work to raise her kids and be with them day to day. When they increasingly spent their days skiing, she inevitably started to coach them. To this day, her mom's advice carries as much weight for Shiffrin as anyone else's, including her roster of coaches. "She travels with me on the World Cup circuit," she says. "And we've grown together, me as a skier and her as a coach. She is always a couple steps ahead of me, just enough to help me improve and to see the things that I need to do better. I have several other coaches now, but she's the one who's been there since I was born." Shiffrin still lives with her parents in Vail, in the house where she grew up. Her hometown is also home base for training, between the mountain, her local gym, and home, where she takes her daily nap. This summer is six days a week of double sessions: a three-hour workout in the morning, followed by lunch, rest, and another two-and-a-half-hour workout in the afternoon. Afterward she'll spend time with her family, see her friends, watch movies. But even in the offseason, she's usually in bed by 9 or 9:30. On-snow work resumes in July, in New Zealand, where she'll train for several weeks, and then again in Chile in September. From there, the start of the season is just around the corner. The two weeks following her win in March is the only downtime Shiffrin will have all year. She spent her first day as overall champion skiing Aspen Mountain, the first time she skied anything "besides the actual race hill, which was really fun." She also had a bit of leisure time in town. "I love the vibe that you get in Aspen," she says. "It's so cool and quaint. It's like a city but it's just a tiny little thing." But before long, it was back to training, with Shiffrin eager to relish in the results that would follow. "There are a million breakthroughs you can make on any given day," she says. "I'm just super motivated by train- ing days where I can make that big improvement that I've been trying to get forever, whatever that might be. And I've always had the same focus, that same kind of motivation, since I was 12 or 13. Those same things still work." One recent fixation was "fluidity," which she tried to incorporate into her skiing last season. "I have been known to be a little bit stiff sometimes," she says, "and that keeps me from getting that little bit of extra speed." The best thing to develop fluidity is being able to free ski, Shiffrin says, whether by herself or with family or friends. But given her training schedule, that's a joy more rare than one might expect from a skier who's on-mountain nearly 300 days a year. This year, her focus is on gaining strength and power in her turns, and increasing her speed. "There's always something to be working on." While her dedication to improvement is responsible for her success, it also ends up being the lens through which she views that success. "I stopped try- ing to understand [accomplishment] and [instead] just moved forward," she says. "Winning never really sinks in. After every race I win, I'm on top of the world for 15 seconds, and then it feels like, okay, I only did what I've been training for all year and for the past 15 years. It's just what I've been practicing. In that sense, it's not something that I should celebrate. I knew before that I could do it if I just let myself ski the way I wanted to ski. And that's how it's been with all of my biggest successes—less of a surprise and more of setting out to do a job and being able to get the job done." In that way, Shiffrin celebrates her successes in advance—in the gym, on the training course, even asleep during her afternoon nap. . "I ALWAYS HELD MYSELF TO A REALLY HIGH STANDARD, SO IT WAS A NATURAL COURSE TO CONTINUE TO CLIMB TO THE HIGHEST LEVEL." —mikaela shiffrin

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