Mikaela Shiffrin Shares the Secrets to Her Success | No Caffeine, No Alcohol, Lots of Sleep, and Sharp Focus

Shiffrin,
Mikaela Shiffrin

Mikaela Shiffrin, the best slalom skier in the world right now, is the first skier, male or female, to make $1 million in prize money from a single season. Also the youngest slalom champion in Olympic history and the youngest skier to win 50 World Cup races, is there anything she does that gives her the competitive edge over her rivals?

Shiffrin told Business Insider that her training schedule is not very different from her colleagues’ regimens, but she has a sharp sense of focus and prioritizes sleep. She also keeps her diet routine simple: Seltzer mixed with cranberry juice is her “favorite thing to drink,” and she almost never touches alcohol or coffee.

“I’m generally a pretty athletic person, but I’m not like, the greatest athlete,” she told Business Insider in an interview arranged by Swiss watchmaker Longines.

Shiffrin’s discipline extends to all corners of her life, including what she eats, how much sleep she gets, and the way in which she takes care of her own mental health to manage anxiety. All of her strategies are backed up by years of scientific research and combined they each play a role in her winning formula.

“She approaches skiing in a much different way than most, or maybe everyone,” retired US Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn recently told the Associated Press. “It’s very methodical and technical, kind of the opposite of me, but that’s why she’s had so much success.”

Mikaela Shiffrin
Mikaela Shiffrin on course. Credit: nau.ch

Shiffrin follows the same routine almost every day:

“I start every morning with eggs and toast and a glass of water with a little juice in it,” she said. “I almost never drink coffee.”

She does not want to feel dependent on caffeine, adding that coffee doesn’t always sit well with her stomach or nerves. She acknowledged though, that she’ll have “half a cup” of joe very rarely, when not racing. But typically, Shiffrin sticks to tea, a milder stimulant, when looking for a caffeine boost. One of her favorite drinks though is a cocktail, albeit non-alcoholic:

“My favorite thing to drink is cranberry juice with seltzer water,” she said. “That’s just my favorite and I feel like that’s the most refreshing thing.”

Generally, she avoids alcohol, much like coffee. And regarding diet, for an athlete sponsored by a pasta company, it probably won’t surprise you that she is definitely not low-carb:

“The rest of my diet is like, carbs, protein, and vegetables,” she said. “Pasta is one of the things that I can almost always get down, no matter how I’m feeling,” she said, adding that one of her favorite pre-race dinners is “pasta with chicken and maybe like a little bit of salad or something.”

Other days, Shiffrin said, she’ll pair noodles with “bolognese sauce or maybe just simple, with basil and garlic and olive oil.”

World Cup, slalom, Mikaela Shiffrin, shiffrin, killington, Vermont
Mikaela Shiffrin celebrates her victory. Credit: Charles Krupa / AP | AP

If there’s an activity besides skiing at which Shiffrin would beat most of us, it’s sleeping. She strives to get at least nine hours a night but said it’s often nine-and-a-half. She’ll pay close attention to the signs her body gives about its energy levels: Is she feeling more sore than usual? Are her eyes watering? Is she a tad more irritable than normal?

And for relaxation, especially before a race, listening to music and mindful breathing are her recommendations.

Many are betting that Shiffrin, still only 24, will become the most decorated skier of all time. This year, she broke the record for the most World Cup wins in a single season, with 15.