Learning from a champion - Preparation and Effort

In the current issue of Sports Illustrated(Greg Bishop, March 3, 2021) Ski Racer Mikaela Shiffrin was interviewed. It is an article worth reading for anyone interested in ski racing and her career, but more importantly for anyone interested in how the very best thrive at the top.

Her story is compelling and her record setting results at the recent Ski World Championships just another objective measure of her immense athletic skill and also her humanity. Life at the very top for a champion athlete is very fragile and to remain at the top, race after race year after year is quite an accomplishment, especially given all of the unexpected events that life can deliver. 

In this article Shiffrin talks about needing to relearn her focusing skills and about how her preparation has always been key to her success. Her quote: “I was never really the athlete who made those heroic moments happen,” she says. “I always just relied on really, really solid preparation, a very methodical process…"(Greg Bishop, March 3, 2021). In my research of champion ski racers, solid preparation was a critical component to their success and confidence. 

Behind the scenes, the best in the world work extremely hard to make their winning performances look easy. If a great ski racer, catches an edge and recovers it is not simply luck it is hours and hours of practice learning how to recover from making a mistake and to keep moving down the course. While the specific approach of a champion is unique to that individual, success cannot be divorced from effort. Extreme effort is a requirement.

One of the many takeaways on Shiffrin is the perseverance of the human spirit. Over the past year she has unexpectedly lost a parent (who also played an active role in her career), suffered an injury and endured this pandemic. Yet, she is still on top. 

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