07

Longines ambassador of elegance: Mikaela Shiffrin

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from starting gate
to red carpet
Today, Mikaela Shiffrin, now 23, has three World Championship gold medals to her credit, along with 43 World Cup victories. But she thinks back often to that day in Schladming when 50,000 ardent Austrian fans showed their appreciation for her performance on the grueling, icy track of the Planai piste.
It seems like just yesterday that the teenaged girl stood somewhat bewildered in the finish area in Schladming, Austria looking up at the stadium scoreboard, a TV cameraman walking around her filming her every emotion. In third place after the first of two runs of slalom, she had set a blistering pace down the Streicher ski run to take the lead. Now, at the tender age of 17, she was suddenly a world champion.

Today, Mikaela Shiffrin, now 23, has three World Championship gold medals to her credit, along with 43 World Cup victories. But she thinks back often to that day in Schladming when 50,000 ardent Austrian fans showed their appreciation for her performance on the grueling, icy track of the Planai piste.

Fast forward six years and Mikaela has risen to become a global sporting star and celebrity. While her comfort zone comes first in pushing her athleticism on steep mountain pitches, she has made the transition from starting gate to red carpet, and from racing suit to elegant gowns, with the same aplomb that gets her down from alpine peaks faster than any other ski racer in the world.

And while she swoops gracefully in front of cameras from Cannes to Los Angeles, she still retains that teenaged innocence the world came to know just a few years ago.
journey to excellence
It has been a remarkable ride to excellence for Mikaela Shiffrin. Alongside her for much of that journey has been Longines. That same year she won her first major medal event at the 2013 World Championships in Schladming, the Colorado native was acclaimed as the annual Longines Rising Ski Star – an honor she claimed for four straight years. A year later she became a Longines Ambassador of Elegance.

Ski racing ran in the Shiffrin family. Her parents, Jeff and Eileen, were both passionate skiers. They had young Mikaela and older brother Taylor on skis at an early age. The two took to snow naturally. But Mikaela really stood out. At an early age she mystified ski instructors not really sure what to do with a young girl whose skill was so advanced for her age.

To Mikaela and Taylor, it was just fun – following mom and dad down the slopes.

The other element taught to them by mom and dad was a strong work ethic – on and off the slopes. They knew Mikaela had natural talent as a skier. But they did not want her to rest on that. Do the hard work and the results would come. And they did.

Jeff’s work as an anesthesiologist had him floating between hospitals in Denver, Colorado and Hanover, New Hampshire. So young Mikaela had the experience of skiing the magical powder of the Colorado Rocky Mountains as well as the icy, cold pitches of ski areas in Vermont. It was that ice and biting cold of the New England winters that built character in the young ski racer.
focus on fundamental skills
Many have looked at Mikaela’s past wondering what development concepts can be gleaned from her development. Probably not a lot. She was unique. Skiing for the Shiffrin family was about having fun. As an aspiring ski racer, the focus for Mikaela was on skills development through her early years. It was not about medals or crystal globes. It was about growing up as a young girl, experiencing life and building a good work ethic.

It was also about the culture of the sport. Summers with the family in Austria brought her closer to the roots of alpine ski racing. Her heroes were not just the American stars. She looked up to Austrian greats like Marlies Schild and followed her every move.

When she did make her move onto the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup at the age of 15, her childhood focus on fundamentals showed. She just skied well, so grounded in the basics. And she was having fun. While her focus had never been on results or medals, those began to come.
winning as a teen
In her first World Cup weekend at Špindlerův Mlýn in the Czech Republic, she failed to qualify for a second run. Eight months later in Aspen, Colorado, she scored a top-10. A month later she was on the podium, finishing third in Lienz, Austria. Less than a year later, she won her first World Cup in Åre, Sweden at just 16 years old.

She quickly became a favorite of the news media for her wholesomeness, her true caring and her ability to make jokes with them at press conferences. There was a bit of awkwardness about her in that setting, which was a part of her true charm.

The roots of her upbringing still ring true today. She is truly a wonderful young woman who just happens to be the world’s greatest ski racer. While her skiing came naturally, her transition to the red carpet as a global sports star has been a new chapter for her.
european film festival
On a major European film festival stage in May, Mikaela joined fellow USA sport stars as guests of the American network NBCUniversal. Juggling red carpets and TV appearances, she rubbed elbows with the likes of Danish actor and Game of Thrones Kingslayer Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.

“Taking advantage of this kind of attention that my sport is getting is really cool,” she said. “I try to play it up as much as much as possible to show people ski racing is a fun sport.”

In her role as a Longines Ambassador, Mikaela has grown more comfortable with her public role. And she laughs when she thinks about herself just a few years ago.

“It was a bit more of a process for me this time around,” she laughed while preparing for a live TV red carpet show in Los Angeles this past summer. “The last time I attended these awards I just went to the store and bought a dress off the rack, ‘oh, this looks good, I’ll wear that.”
stylish in LA
This year Mikaela teamed up with celebrity stylist Alexandra Mandelkorn for a ‘wow’ look that dazzled as the strobe lights flashed on the red carpet. Mandelkorn was impressed with Mikaela’s knowledge and passion for fashion – ‘she did her homework.’ They settled on a shimmering silver fitted dress with some unique jewels as an accent.

She was one of the favorites walking the media line, interview after interview including a fun session with figure skater Adam Rippon who was working for the American television network ABC. And she caught the eye of more than just a few celebrities including English actress Kate Beckinsale and the American TV and film star Jennifer Garner.
back to snow
By August, the destination of her jet setting turned to colder climates. First, it was off to South America for an on-snow camp. Then came the glaciers of Europe and on to the World Cup tour for its six-month span, and a World Championships this February in Sweden where she will seek a fourth straight slalom gold.

At every stop along the way, media will be clamoring and fans will strain their necks to catch a glimpse. Mikaela will just give them a wink and her ever present friendly smile.

She’s having fun with life doing what she loves.

Mikaela Shiffrin celebrates after her victory in Flachau, Austria last season where she won the highest prize money purse ever awarded on the women’s World Cup tour.
Mikaela, elegant, at the Prix de Diane Longines alongside Walter von Känel, President of Longines.
welcome to saint-imier,
home of Longines
Shortly after winning her second overall FIS Ski World Cup season title, champion ski racer Mikaela Shiffrin visited the Saint-Imier home of Longines and was captivated by the aura of the winged hourglass brand.
In many ways, Saint-Imier is much like other small Swiss villages in the Bernese Jura region. As the birthplace of the Longines timepiece in 1832, however, it boasts a unique heritage as a home to excellence and precision.

Located just below the centre of Saint-Imier along the Suze River, the simple cream-colored building stands out against the tree-covered hills. Walking inside you are immediately captivated by the elegance that is synonymous with the Longines brand.

“As an athlete, everything I do is about excellence in sport,” said Mikaela Shiffrin. “What immediately struck me was the sense of both performance and elegance I felt inside the building and, most of all, from the people.”
still a child at heart
As a world class ski racer and a Longines Ambassador of Elegance, Mikaela Shiffrin is used to being in the spotlight. But at her core, as an athlete, she loves children. Ending her Longines visit with a chance to meet young ski racers from the Ski- Club Saint-Imier and nearby Ski-Club Chasseral Dombresson-Villiers was a joyful way to end her day at Longines.

It wasn’t all that long ago that she was one of them, looking up to her heroes and gaining motivation to excel in her sport. “It was a fun surprise to meet aspiring athletes. It brought back so many memories for me. I hope that they will remember this day and that I can, in some way, inspire them.”
perfection leads to precision
Inside the Longines headquarters, Mikaela’s mission was to experience the exquisiteness of the work exhibited by skilled craftsmen. Adorned in a white technician’s apron, she went behind the scenes to look at the inner workings of Longines in a watchmaking workshop. She marveled at the skill of the technicians and the culture of perfection.

There was a sense of partnership: experienced watchmakers who ply their craft with attention to every detail, together with one of the world’s greatest athletes who has forged her career in a similar manner, always chasing a faster time.

“I will never look at my watches the same way again,” she said. “I was amazed at the precision with which the timepieces were crafted with attention to the smallest of details. In a way, it was similar to how my skis are prepared before each race with my technicians conscious of every tiny element. Small details impact performance.”

Together with the skilled watchmakers, they worked strategically to personalize her own signature watch. Her personal touches of style will captivate fans with her own Mikaela Shiffrin special edition from the Conquest collection which will be available for sale this season.



heritage of a great brand
Walter von Känel, President of Longines, and Juan-Carlos Capelli, Vice President of Longines and Head of International Marketing, had the honor of escorting Mikaela through the building, including the Longines Museum where the 186-year history of the winged hourglass brand was on display. An area of special interest to her in the museum was the history of Longines in sport, dating back to 1878.

She talked about heroes and history, and the important role it played in her development as a teen. “Learning about the deep heritage and strong roots of Longines from Mr. von Känel himself helped me better understand the connectivity to my sport of alpine ski racing and the role I serve as a Longines Ambassador.”

Visiting the home of the iconic brand was a very personal experience for Mikaela Shiffrin. As a young ski racer she was honored four times as a Longines Rising Ski Star. Today, as an Ambassador of Elegance, she is a valued member of the Longines family. That family pride is manifested within her on the World Cup tour, showcasing Longines timepieces when she climbs up onto the World Cup podium or swoops down a red carpet.

She left Saint-Imier with fond memories and a deeper, very personal understanding of the standard of excellence that goes into every Longines timepiece.

There heritage of Longines dating back to 1832 was of great interest to Mikaela Shiffrin as she visited the Swiss watchmaker’s museum in Saint-Imier.
Mikaela Shiffrin discovers her special edition from the Conquest collection with Juan-Carlos Capelli, Vice President of Longines and Head of International Marketing.
two days with
Mikaela Shiffrin
Longines Ambassador of Elegance since 2014, Mikaela Shiffrin took advantage of her visit to the headquarters of the winged hourglass brand to perfect her knowledge of a partner who has supported her since her early successes. Between a visit to the Longines Museum and a meeting with the local ski-club, the young athlete was charmed by the warm welcome she was given. Later on, she went to the Bürgenstock Resort overlooking Lake Lucerne to join the creative team for a photoshoot session for the next advertising campaign.
World Champion Mikaela Shiffrin is greeted by Longines' President, Walter von Känel.
Looking to learn as much as possible about the history of the Swiss watch brand, Mikaela spends time in the Longines Museum.
Mikaela’s watch from the Conquest collection adds an elegant touch to her business suit during the visit to the Longines Museum in Saint-Imier.
Mikaela harkened back to her days as a young girl as she met with Ski-Club Saint-Imier during her visit to Longines.
A photographer captures a stylish image of ski racer Mikaela Shiffrin for the new Longines advertising campaign.
The recently inaugurated, 80 m2 Longines Boutique located at the Bürgenstock Resort Lake Lucerne, showcases models from the extensive collection of the Longines brand.
Mikaela strikes a pose in the pool of the Bürgenstock Resort high above Lake Lucerne in Central Switzerland for the Longines advertising campaign.
the conquest chronograph
by mikaela shiffrin
A subtle melange of performance and elegance – the Conquest collection watches exemplify the close links Longines has forged within the world of sport. As a privileged partner in alpine skiing, the brand unveils its latest piece to join the line, with a personal touch from Longines Ambassador of Elegance Mikaela Shiffrin. The Alpine skiing champion took up the opportunity to try her hand as a watchmaker for a day, participating in the creation of a special edition watch during her visit to the brand’s headquarters in April 2018. The model was presented at of the opening of the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup in Sölden, Austria.

This 36 mm stainless steel chronograph features a blue aventurine dial – a first for Longines. The material lends the watch a unique shimmering effect, reminiscent of snowflakes tumbling through the sky. The model displays 1 Arabic numeral and 11 indices, with the date aperture at 4 o’clock, the small second at 6 o’clock, the 30-minute counter at 10 o’clock, and the second hand at its centre. The red central second hand and 30-minute counter offer a striking contrast to the rest of the watch. Finally, the case back features a special engraving showing Mikaela Shiffrin’s figure skiing, as well as her signature. A stainless steel bracelet completes this exceptional piece.

The American champion was delighted to have had the chance to express her own interpretation of the brand’s motto, “Elegance is an attitude”, adding:
“I hope that my fans will see some aspects of my personality in this watch, my athletic and dynamic side coupled with my own special feminine touch.”
Conquest Chronograph by Mikaela Shiffrin
Quartz chronograph movement (L538.3)
Functions:

– hours
– minutes
– seconds
– chronograph
– date
Dial:

aventurine blue, 1 Arabic numeral and 11 indices; date aperture at
4 o’clock; small second at 6 o’clock


Case:

round, stainless steel, ø36mm,
mirror polished screw-in case back with a special engraving showing Mikaela Shiffrin’s figure skiing and her signature

Screw-in crown with protective shoulder
Other features:

rhodium-plated hands with Super-LumiNova® ; stainless steel bracelet with triple safety folding clasp and push-piece opening mechanism ;
water-resistant up to
30 bar (300 meters)

Discover
Trying her hand as a watchmaker for a day, Mikaela Shiffrin had the opportunity to express her own interpretation of Longines signature “Elegance is an attitude” by participating in the creation of her special edition watch.
building confidence amidst details: the role of a great coach
“I believe that simplicity is the best approach,” says Lackie. “But to achieve simplicity, you have to understand and track variables. That’s where simplicity gets complicated. As coaches, we need to be aware of every detail, on the hill and off. No variable should be left outside.”
It was the end of a long season that had started six months earlier on an Austrian glacier. Saturday, March 17 – the last day of the 2018 FIS World Cup season. Weather was coming in across the Swedish forest land. You could see it in the sky.

Mikaela Shiffrin’s coach Jeff Lackie was packing his gear for the second run of slalom. He would be stationed on the piste, radioing information up to the start. After the first run, Mikaela had a half second lead – comfortable, but far from over. From purely a points perspective, there wasn’t much at stake for her that day. Later that afternoon she would claim the crystal globe for slalom – but she had long since locked up the points.

Leaving the athlete tent at the top of the race course, Lackie gave her a fist bump. Few words were said. Sometimes they aren’t really necessary. He clicked into his skis and headed down to his post. Mikaela relaxed. She would be the last out of the starting gate that afternoon.

Shiffrin, who had turned 23, days earlier, could have easily taken a victory lap. The 100 points weren’t a difference maker. But Åre was a special place. It was where she had won her first World Cup five years earlier. It was the site of the upcoming World Championships.

Most of all, it was the same place where 826 days earlier a training crash took her out of action for two months. Today was about closure.
evolution of a ski coach
Jeff Lackie’s CV reads much like any other coach. He grew up racing in Canada, probably retiring before his peak, he says. He is proud to say he raced against Bode Miller. Like many retired athletes, he went into coaching – but at just 18 years old. He spent time in Whistler then Austria and back to Canada. He coached juniors then became a fitness coach. He did a stint with the development team then made it up to the big time, coaching the Canadian women’s national team.

Four years ago, he made the jump to the U.S. Ski Team, joining forces with Mikaela Shiffrin. His title: Head Coach, Strength and Conditioning. What he actually does, goes far beyond the words on his business card.

“If it involves high performance, I want to be involved,” says Lackie.
performance is measured by the details
Skiing is much like any elite athletic sport. Performance is measured in minute ways. Tiny things make the difference.

Lackie manages a multi-faceted program. He’s her on-snow coach, her strength coach, implements her dryland training and monitors her testing. He keeps close tabs on everything from schedule to equipment. You won’t find him on the red carpet – he prefers to be outside the spotlight. And he prefers to keep it simple.

“I believe that simplicity is the best approach,” says Lackie. “But to achieve simplicity, you have to understand and track variables. That’s where simplicity gets complicated. As coaches, we need to be aware of every detail, on the hill and off. No variable should be left outside.”

simple, everyday excellence
He attributes Mikaela’s success to simple everyday excellence. “Mikaela never wastes a second of any run,” he said. “Literally every inch of every run she’s thinking about getting better. That commitment to excellence allowed her to have a strong return to snow.”

Attention to detail is what separates great athletes and great coaches today. While Lackie is comfortable standing on a frozen race course for hours on end, he also knows that his job will take him on the road from local gyms around the world to red carpet galas - sometimes out of his comfort zone. Sleep schedule, daily dryland, impact of standing for hours - all little details that keep an athlete on track.

“She brings so much focus and attention to detail,” said Lackie. “It’s no surprise she’s a Longines ambassador. She has that precision and is receptive to input. It’s always a give and take. In order for me to be true to myself and to help her achieve the highest level she possibly can, I have to speak up.”
Coach Jeff Lackie stands on a mountainside in Colorado during a speed training session with Mikaela at Copper Mountain.
maximizing performance on race day
Those details carry over to the race course during the grueling six-month World Cup tour. Last season Mikaela started thirty races. Few sports put that level of demand on an athlete.

The day before a race is all about achieving a good feeling on snow. Lackie will search the host resort for a small space for her to get in just a few runs. All it takes for her is an 18-20 second ski run to get a feeling for the snow and her skis. It’s on the hill and off as quickly as possible.

Then, while fresh in her mind, Lackie and Atomic serviceman Johann Strobl confer about the skis. The team may travel with five or six different pairs for a slalom, each with a slightly different setup.

In the afternoon before competition day, Lackie will meet with her to talk about the race plan. “In that time I want to elicit certain qualities I want to see her express physically the next day,” said Lackie. “It’s dependent on a number of variables that could be impacting her. If she’s under stress and tight, we might do an agility session. If she’s feeling good, we may work on reactive exercises. It’s all designed around elements that might impact her performance.”

As a ski coach, Lackie is used to working with Mother Nature. “It’s not like a swimming race where you know exactly when the event will take place or the exact length of the pool,” he said. “You have to be flexible.”

Which brings us back to Åre three years ago. “It was one of the curveballs of sport,” said Lackie. “She was skiing the best anyone had ever seen. Sometimes athletes are outside of themselves – expressing things they had never expressed before.”

It was a routine training day. Mikaela just came out of a gate bringing her same intensity and the hill just pulled her into the fence. A knee injury kept her out of action for over two months.

Lackie was a key member of the team that helped her come back. There was huge pressure during that time to get it right, but also pressure to get her back competing.

“In my mind, we had only one opportunity to do this right,” said Lackie. “She’s only 21. Why sacrifice the rest of her career for an extra World Cup or two?”

After eight weeks of rehab she did six days of on-snow training in Colorado, then flew to Switzerland and won her first race back in Crans-Montana.
it comes down to confidence and trust
Fast forward to the 2018 FIS Alpine World Cup Finals in Åre last March, Lackie was confident as he radioed feedback up to Mikaela at the start.

He told her, ‘this hill is your bread and butter. You can charge and build speed all the way down – lightning fast through the combinations. Go get it!’

That is exactly what she did. By the final pitch to the finish, she was up by a full second.

He watched her with the pride every coach feels about their athlete. Deep down, he also knew it was about trust.

“It’s easy to show genuine support and confidence when you’ve done the work – and she has,” he said. “It makes it really easy for me to believe in her. It also makes it easy for her to trust me.”

Seeking excellence means taking risks to be successful. “I know coaches may live vicariously through athletes’ success,” Lackie said. “But it’s her who has to take the risk. Not everyone can do that. That’s why she’s consistently on the top of podium.”

Lackie skied down to the finish amidst the podium festivities and media interviews. She was busy but he broke in to put a hand on her shoulder and whisper, “I’m happy for you,” and slid away.
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