AKS - Mikaela Shiffrin Söyleşisi - İngilizce
Mehmet A. Evcim
Yurt dışı kamplarımız, AKS sporcularına çok şey katıyor. Şüphesiz dünyanın en önde gelen alp disiplini eğitmenleriyle çalışmak bunların en önde gelenlerinden. Ancak bunun yanında önemli bir katma değer daha var AKS sporcularını elde ettiği: dünyanın dört bir yanından gelen her yaştan sporcularla tanışma, aynı ortamlarda antrenman yapma şansı yakalıyorlar. Üstelik bunlar bazen dünyanın kendi yaşlarında en önde gelen sporcuları olabiliyor. Hele kendi yaş gruplarına yakın dünya çapında sporcularla haşır neşir olma fırsatı yakaladılar mı, tadına doyum olmuyor.
İşte ABD’li bayan kayakçı Mikaela Shiffrin bunun en iyi örneklerinden biri. Shiffrin ailesi, ailece kayakçı. Anne ABD masterlar şampiyonu, baba kayak eğitmeni, ağabey ise çok başarılı bir kayakçı. Ama kızları 13 Mart 1995 doğumlu Mikaela’nın ayrı bir yeri var. Mikaela’nın, kendi kategorisinde ABD’nin önde gelen kayakçıları arasında olan ağabeyini geçmek gibi hain alışkanlıkları var mesela. Bunun dışında iki yıldır Kanada’daki Whistler Cup uluslararası çocuk kupasını en önde bitirmek gibi meziyetleri var. Bütün bunların yanında, henüz Çocuk 2 kategorisinde yarışan geleceğin World Cup yarışçısı, AKS sporcularının arkadaşı.
Mikaela ile kapsamlı bir röportaj yaptık, sorularımızı çok içten cevapladı, kendisine çok teşekkür ederiz. Röportajı bu aşamada İngilizce olara yayınlamak zorundayız ne yazık ki, bir gönüllümüz tercüme eder etmez Türkçesini de ilave edeceğiz.
First, we would like to congratulate you on your continuing success story and of course your amazing three podiums in the Whistler Cup 2009, which you dominated once again this year. As you know we are AKS, a skiing team in Istanbul, Turkey. Turkey is a country that has abundant snow but skiing is simply not a part of the culture. To make things worse, we live and study in Istanbul, one of the largest cities in Europe, and the nearest proper ski slopes are a 3 to 4 hour drive from home. We would love to ask you a few questions that would help us understand how alpine ski racing is seen in an area where people live near the slopes and skiing is part of the culture.
AKS: Can you please tell us at what age and where did you start skiing? Where you come from, what is an average age for kids of skiing parents to start skiing?
Mikaela: I was 3 years old when I first skied. That is about the age that kids of skiing parents start too, though some are a few years older.
AKS: When did you first race? And when did you decide you would go to a ski academy and take skiing seriously?
Mikaela: My first race was when I was about 7 years old. My brother had been racing for a few years, while I was watching from the sidelines. He was a big reason that I decided to give racing a try. About 3 years ago he began attending BMA (Burke Mountain Academy) and I participated in their race program too but I didn’t officially start attending BMA until last winter in 2008-09.
AKS: We know that you are getting an amazing amount of support from your family. Can you comment on that? What percentage of your time on snow do you spend with your family and how much away?
Mikaela: My family gives me so much support and encouragement. Even my aunts, uncles, and grandmothers are watching on “Live-timing” as I compete. Ever since I can remember I have been skiing with my parents and brother. When we moved from Vail, Colorado to Lyme, New Hampshire, that did not change. My parents have been a huge part of both my brother’s and my careers— both on and off the hill. For the past 2 years though I began to rely on my coach, Kirk Dwyer, as my primary source of feedback for my skiing. Since my main home is Colorado, but I attend Burke Mountain Academy which is halfway across the country in Vermont, this distance between my parents and myself has made it much harder for them to be on the hill with me at this point but they are still very supportive.
AKS: We assume you see skiing as your profession, and apparently it takes a huge amount of your time. How do you combine it with school? You go to Burke Mountain Ski Academy; how does a ski academy make it easy to combine tuition and skiing? Do you get to practice and study in the same day, any day of the week?
Mikaela: Like so many young skiers, I am thinking of ski racing as a profession some day. It takes up much of my time with the on snow and off snow obligations – training, conditioning, school work, tuning skis etc..
BMA’s mission is to assist the students in reaching their skiing dreams while obtaining a good education. BMA does a good job creating well rounded students, and top athletes. BMA helps the student-athletes achieve their goals by making a flexible school schedule that works exactly with the ski schedule, keeping the academics equal in priority to the athletics without one interfering with the other. This is a very tough balancing act for an academy.
AKS: What would you say is your goal, or your biggest dream in skiing?
Mikaela: I have several short term goals (I’d like to win 2 Golds at Topolino and 3 Golds at Whistler this year) on my way to the big dream of being the best skier in the World, like Lindsey Vonn currently is. Additionally, I have set my sights on the 2014 Olympics in Russia. I have a lot of work ahead of me.
AKS: We understand that you are a member of the Ski Racing Development SRD Ski Team. Have you been racing with SRD for long? How did you got in touch with them and become a part of the team?
Mikaela: This is the first year that I have been on the SRD team. My brother got me involved. Barry Levinson from SRD (in Colorado) kindly offered to support both of us in providing essential gear. The support we get is a big part of our being able to continue in this sport due to the overall cost otherwise.
AKS: Do you currently have any sponsors? Are you looking to have more in the near future? In the US, how difficult is it for young skiers in the Child 1 and Child 2 categories to get sponsorship; is it common to hear of young athletes that receive equipment sponsorship or even more covering additional skiing/training expenses etc?
Mikaela: I receive support from Ski Racing Development, POC Helmets and Armor, and Atomic. All three companies have been very generous to supply me with equipment for skiing and I am very grateful for that. By the J3 level here in the U.S. (that is K2 everywhere else), the top skiers in each region tend to start receiving support at some level from the various ski companies.
I think the ski industry really tries to help out the kids but it has become increasingly difficult for all the ski companies due to the economy. The support athletes receive varies and is fairly private and probably somewhat subjective, not only based on results. I think the U.S. companies want to support kids who seem to be committed to the sport, have promising futures, are hard working and can be good representatives of the sport, starting around age 14.
AKS: We first met you in Hintertux, practicing with ARC, Hugo Nindl’s Austria Racing Camps. Do you keep practicing there? How often do you travel to Europe for skiing, for racing and for practicing?
Mikaela: Unfortunately, I have not had a chance to return to ARC and train with them since my most recent visit in 2006. We really miss those days there with Oliver and Hugo Nindl, and my coach Georg Auger. But, finally, this coming winter I will get to return to Europe! I will be traveling to Italy to compete in an international race there – The Trofeo Topolino Cup, which is the European version of the Whistler Cup. Hopefully I will be traveling to Europe more often as a FIS racer.
AKS: How do you find skiing in Europe to be different than skiing in slopes on the East and West coasts of North America? Do you enjoy skiing in Europe or is it more a necessity to be there?
Mikaela: As I have only skied in Europe during the summer, and I’ve only skied at Hintertux and Les Deux Alps so I can’t really compare “the skiing” to winters in North America. I can say that the summer skiing is similar but more expansive in Europe and of course I enjoy the European atmosphere as well. But, my feeling is that snow is snow; sometimes it’s powder, sometimes it’s ice, sometimes it’s slush but it’s all fun and the snow conditions depend more on the physical geography of your location than the country or continent you’re in. For instance, the moist snow and rain in southern Italy (from what my brother has said), could be more like New Hampshire than the northern region of that same country would be. I love Europe though, love the way skiing is such an integral part of the culture in so many places.
AKS: Can you briefly inform us on your pre-season, in-season and post-season daily routine? In each one of these periods, how many days per week and how many hours per day of dry-land training do you get? How many hours on snow etc?
Mikaela: My pre-season and post-season routines are pretty much the same. I lift weights, play tennis, bike, play soccer, sometimes I windsurf or waterski. I workout about 3-4 hrs. per day total. In the winter at BMA we ski 3 hours, 5 days per week. It is a very efficient schedule because we use a Poma to access the training hill instead of a chairlift, which runs faster and has quicker loading, so we are able to get many runs in during the 3 hours that we ski.
AKS: Other than skiing and dry-land training for skiing, what are your favorite sports/hobbies? Are you engaged in any other sport (or hobby) which you believe has helped your skiing performance? E.g., do you like dancing?
Mikaela: When I was young, I took some Jazz dancing classes, and also some gymnastics, but I don’t have time to do either anymore. I am more into tennis and soccer for the fun and I have recently gotten into yoga a little bit. I also love to play the piano and sing – I play by ear though for now since I can’t seem to find the time to schedule lessons routinely.
AKS: Where do you plan to practice this summer? Have you already made detailed post-season program?
Mikaela: I planned on skiing in June and August at Mt. Hood with BMA. I have been doing some of my dry-land training at a Sports club near my home. I have been working with a trainer and my workout program is fairly detailed with an aerobic base (biking, running, and tennis) which help my endurance and coordination. Then weight-lifting for building strength.
AKS: What do you like to do in your holidays Mikaela, when you really get a holiday and have time off skiing?
Mikaela: For holidays, I love to spend time with my family, relax, and just have fun – go to concerts, or movies with friends and family. During the winter holidays that I am home, I try to ski with my family. Colorado is one of the few U.S. states that have really big mountains with lots of terrain and snow, so it is great to be able to spend holidays here letting it rip, jumping off cliffs and cruising through the powder.
AKS: We would love to invite you to Turkey to visit the Mediterranean coasts some day.
Many thanks for your time. Best wishes in your skiing career and best wishes in life too.
Thank you! Turkey is definitely on my list of "places to visit soon"; my parents speak highly of Istanbul where they have visited. I hope that we will meet again soon, and good luck with the new ski program that you have started! Give a big hug to Ömer.