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World Championships Notes | 16.2.2019 | More than just medals...a heart of gold.

Megan Harrod

It was never my goal to share work-related material here, but I felt more connected to this piece personally than I have about others I have written, so I wanted to share here. (Most) Every World Cup and World Championships race day, I write behind-the-scenes notes that I share with journalists, fans, trustees and beyond. It’s something I sort of inherited from my predecessor when I started the gig, and ran with from there to make it my own. It’s usually a scramble in the morning to write these and a jumble of thoughts, but it’s a part of my job that I love. Hope you find some enjoyment in it, too.

Photography Credit: MATS LIND PHOTOGRAPHY 

No questions.

No second thoughts.

No holding back.

Break the chains,

free yourself.




(Mikaela Shiffrin, Instagram Post - August 18, 2014)

This morning, I reminded Mikaela that she wrote that five years ago. I also sent her thisbecause - other than Jessica's Daily Affirmations - it's probably my favorite YouTube video.

There's much to be said for Mikaela's success, and perhaps even more to be said when she doesn't have success (which - to many fans and media means winning, in her case)...but perhaps what people forget - among all of the victories and records being broken - is that Mikaela is a human being (cue music, folks).

At this point, she's kind of in the same boat as Hirscher - damned if you do, damned if you don't. The media (and the rest of us) is running out of superlatives. So, perhaps it's bigger news when Mikaela is not successful. Headlines read "Mikaela with work to do in Giant Slalom..." / "Mikaela can't beat wind or rivals in giant slalom" / "Mikaela Shiffrin settles for bronze medal in GS at World Championship" / "Mikaela Shiffrin pipped to gold as Petra Vlhova wins giant slalom." I am not sure how to convey what Mikaela is doing through words - her level of consistency at such a high quality is something magical. To keep that level of consistency week in and week out is seemingly impossible. And so, even we - at times - take for granted what she's doing and who she is.

These numbers tell a story:
22 races, with 17 podiums, 13 of which were wins…
14 wins if you count World Champs super-G

This season, there's a 77% chance Mikaela will podium, and she's got a 64% chance to win a race she enters. That's across slalom, parallel slalom, giant slalom, super-G and downhill disciplines this season. 

 As Brian Pinelli stated on Twitter:
World Cup winning percentage comparison among top racers...
Ingemar Stenmark 86 wins/230 starts - 37.4%
Mikaela Shiffrin 56/151 - 37.1%
Annemarie Moser-Proell 62/174 - 35.6%
Marcel Hirscher 68/238 - 28.6%
Lindsey Vonn 82/395 - 20.75%

When asked by Eurosport if Marcel and Mikaela will beat his 86 World Cup victories record, Stenmark replied without hesitation, "Both of them will break this record and Shiffrin for sure will get 100."

 She has done things no one has done before - there is a record to break every day she hits the mountain. And yet, she's only human. Get to know Mikaela, and she's one of the most soft-souled individuals I've ever met. She's kind. She's caring. She's real. So, amidst all of the other stuff - the talk about Mikaela being robotic, a machine, a phenom...let's remember - she is a person. A person who, when she won her first World Cup victory here in Åre on December 20, 2012, met a young girl named Emma Lundell, spent the time with the little 11-year-old suffering from Leukemia, giving her an autograph - and then two years later - was moved to tears when she heard that her "little lucky charm" was healthy and doing well.

Last year, Emma came to see Mikaela hoist up her second consecutive overall globe and fifth slalom globe - and win the slalom by a commanding 1.58 seconds. That day, Emma greeted Mikaela in the finish, and Mikaela gave Emma her globe to hold for pictures, invited her to her victory press conference, and shared the stage with her - giving her her flowers. None of it was for the cameras. Mikaela has done these things many, many times without the cameras and media around. Emma and Mikaela keep in touch, and her mom Annika will bring Emma to today's race to watch Mikaela potentially go down in the record books once again. But perhaps today Mikaela will not only hit the headlines because of what she has or has not done on the mountain - but rather who she is off the mountain: a genuinely good human with a heart of gold.

She's not a stats kind of gal, but we are all about it, right?! So let's look at the run-down for the day:

  • Mikaela Shiffrin has won the ladies' slalom world title three times, all at the last three world championships.

  • The only alpine skier, male or female, to have won a specific event four times at the world championships is Christel Cranz: four in the slalom and five in a combination event. 

  • Shiffrin can become the first alpine skier, male or female, to win a specific event at four successive world championships.

  • Shiffrin and Frida Hansdotter have collected three world championships medals in the ladies' slalom, both at the last three editions. Only Cranz (5), Marielle Goitschel (4) and Šárka Strachová (4) have claimed more. 

  • Shiffrin has won four career gold medals at the world championships, equal to Bode Miller in second-place among US alpine skiers. Only Ted Ligety (5) has won more. 

  • Shiffrin has collected six world championships medals, third-most among US alpine skiers behind Lindsey Vonn (8) and Ligety (7).

  • Shiffrin has already won two medals at these world championships: gold in the super-G and bronze in the giant slalom.

  • Shiffrin can join Vonn (2 in 2009) and Andrea Mead-Lawrence (2 in 1952) as the only US women to win multiple world titles at one edition.

  • Shiffrin can become the second woman to claim a world championships medal in the super-G, giant slalom and slalom in one year, after Mateja Svet in 1987 (giant slalom silver, super-G bronze, slalom bronze). 

Again, she doesn't focus on records. So let's dance, shall we?! Yes, let's!

The Associated Press, Like an Angel - Shiffrin Inspired by Cancer Survivor
Coach Jeff Lackie on What Makes Mikaela Shiffrin Different
Alex Azzi, NBC Sports Olympic Talk - "Mikaela Shiffrin could win historic world title, not that she’s keeping track"
Mikaela Shiffrin - Slalom Preview
Men's Giant Slalom Recap - Ligety 11th, Ford 12th

The Scoop/Course Report: It's a bit of a wind-rain mix today - not the most beautiful conditions we've seen here, but alas - we're on the final stretch and today is going to be a good show. I caught up with Jeff Lackie, one of Mikaela's coaches, following inspection and here's what he had to say:

"As we’ve seen over the past couple days of racing, this hill doesn’t offer enough natural challenges to significantly separate the field. In addition, the snow is old and dead which means the athletes will struggle to get any significant rebound from the surface. Despite all this, the course set is good, nice rhythmical swing, with a diagonal corridor that includes a royal flush before the finish pitch. Miki, has had loads of success here in the past with a variety of snow conditions including soft slushy snow like today. Despite how long the course is, you need to ski it like a sprint, every little ‘pitch’ is an opportunity to add momentum."


Women’s Slalom, Åre, Sweden
Start Time: 
1st run-11am CET/2nd run-14:30
U.S. Starters: Mikaela Shiffrin (bib 2), Paula Moltzan (21) and Nina O'Brien (41). 

  • Of her six slalom starts in Åre, Mikaela has won four times. Last year at World Cup Finals, by 1.58 seconds. In 2015, by 1.41 seconds. In 2014, by .60 seconds. And, of course - on December 20, 2012 - her very first World Cup victory, by .29 seconds. I'm not sure if you caught that...but in the last two slalom starts she's had on this track, she has won by a combined margin of 2.99 SECONDS (!!). Take that in, folks. Because THAT is insane.

  •  Paula Moltzan, who skis for the University of Vermont, is a Minnesota-born gal with big talent. After being on the team, then off the team, she has shown that the World Cup is where she belongs. This season she's been 17th, 15th, 12th and 16th, respectively. Keep an eye on her today, as she has posted some smokin'-fast runs...including the second-fastest second run in Flachau, Austria - behind someone who you may know - Petra Vlhova. Nina O'Brien has shown strength on the NorAm Cup this season, and has scored her first World Cup points this year in both slalom (23rd, Killington) and giant slalom (26th, Kronplatz). She is currently ranked first in the NorAm Cup overall, slalom, giant slalom, and super-G standings. 

Who’s in the hunt: Of course, Petra, Wendy, and Frida will all be contenders today - and watch hometown gal Anna Swenn Larsson, too. The heat is on for ol' Österreich, eh?!Schroeksnadel must be beside himself with this stat: Austria has yet to claim its first medal in a ladies' event at these world championships. The last time Austria failed to collect a world championships medal in a ladies' event was in 1982 in Schladming, Austria. Yikes.

World Championships Slalom - 18.2.2017 - St. Moritz
1.  Mikaela Shiffrin (by 1.64 seconds!!)
2.  Wendy Holdener (SUI, bib 3 today)
3.  Frida Hansdotter (SWE, lucky no. 7)
4.  Petra Vlhova (SVK, 6)
5. Sarka Strachova (CZE, retired)

Last Slalom at Åre, Sweden - World Cup Finals - 17.3.2018
1. Mikaela Shiffrin (by 1.58 seconds!!)
2. Wendy Holdener
3. Frida Hansdotter
4. Nina Haver-Loeseth (NOR, out with injury)
5. Bernadette Schild (AUT, bib 5 today)

Women's World Cup Slalom Standings
1. Mikaela Shiffrin (860 points)
2.  Petra Vlhova (725)
3.  Wendy Holdener (485)
4.  Frida Hansdotter (348)
5.  Anna Swenn-Larsson (336, bib 4 today)

Women's Slalom 

All times EST
*Same-day broadcast
**Next-day broadcast

Saturday, Feb. 16
5:00 a.m. - FIS World Alpine Championships women’s slalom run 1 - Are, SWE - Olympic Channel-TV, & NBC Sports Gold
7:00 a.m. - FIS World Alpine Championships women’s slalom run 1 - Are, SWE - NBCSN*
8:00 a.m. - FIS World Alpine Championships women’s slalom run 2 - Are, SWE - NBCSN & NBC Sports Gold
1:00 p.m. - FIS World Alpine Championships women’s slalom - Are, SWE - NBC*

All streams are available via desktop ( and as well as mobile, tablet and connected television platforms. The NBC Sports app, NBC Sports Gold app and Olympic Channel app are available on the iTunes App Store, Google Play, Windows Store, Roku Channel Store, Apple TV and Amazon Fire. Exclusive commercial-free coverage will be available for subscribers of the NBC Sports Gold Pass.

With zip and zang,


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Textual Frustration

Megan Harrod

The 21st century is a bizarre time to be alive. Sit around a table with a group of millennials and you'll experience a social situation that is both fascinating and appalling. Conversations with phones replace true human connection. "Being present" has taken on a new meaning. Arguments, deep conversations and flirtation happen via text. We wait by our phones, in anticipation of what he will write. The infamous "..." lights up our screens and stirs up butterflies in our stomachs. I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I've heard numerous males and females - mostly females - lamenting about their relationships and the frustration associated with technology. I even wrote a piece and submitted it to the Sun Journal recently. I don't think they'll run it, so I'll share it here. 

Textual Frustration

“Hi Moondust!” he writes.

“Hello,” she responds.  

Silence. Then the “…” shows. Her heart beats with anticipation.

Then it disappears.

More silence.

“So…how are you? Where are you?” she says.

It’s been six weeks since she saw him. They’ve been “dating” for two and a half years. On and off, of course. He’s beautiful and loving – mostly – when he’s present, but the problem is…he’s just not present very much.

Finally, he replies with a picture. A classic reply from him. It was a photo of him throwing out a peace sign on top of a mountain in Norway. The sun was shining down on him, casting an angelic glow on his messy mop of curls. Of course, she knew more than anyone else that he was far from an angel.

“Stunning,” she texted. She hadn’t seen his face in about a week. She missed him…but it wasn’t the healthy kind of missing him. It was the gaping hole in her heart kind of way of missing him. She yearned for his love. A love that he wasn’t ready to give her, and perhaps never would be ready to give her.


She was writing to him. His phone was in his pocket, so he didn’t even notice. There was no anticipation. He was living his dream. But his dream was simple. He was nomadic. He didn’t have to worry about being tied to anything or answering to anyone. He preferred that lifestyle.  It’s not that he didn’t love her. He just didn’t need her.

And she didn’t need him, either. But she yearned for his love.

“Let me know when you have time to talk. I’d love to see your face,” she wrote.

Two hours passed. 

He returned to his hostel with a big dumb grin on his face, feeling accomplished after a long day of skiing and connecting with locals, looking forward to grabbing a beer with the cute receptionist after her shift. Not because she was cute and he liked her, but because she was nice and she was local, and she shared a love for IPAs with him, and she had information about an epic hike he wanted to experience. He took his phone out of his pocket and saw her text.

He smiled. Of course, he missed her too. But he’d never tell her that. Telling her that would make him appear vulnerable and too connected. And maybe that would mean he’d have to sacrifice some of his lifestyle, which he wasn’t ready to do.

The receptionist walked up and greeted him with a hug. He quickly put his phone back in his pocket and said, “Heeeeeey! The skiing was PHENOMENAL out there today. Want to get a beer?”

The other “she” retreated into her room, iPhone in hand.

Still no text from him. “What am I doing,” she thought to herself. “Am I an idiot?! I’ve never waited around for anyone in my life. He must not love me. He must have found someone else. Maybe he’s with someone else right now. I wonder if it was that girl in the picture from the other day. Maybe he loves her.”

Textual frustration.


Food for Thought: How do we calm our busy minds? How do we control the chaos? How do we trust in a world where everyone and everything is literally at our fingertips? Part 2 to come soon…

The Road to PyeongChang Starts at 1 Victory Lane

Megan Harrod

***Disclaimer: I hope you all can read, because I’m not providing audio for this one since it’s abbreviated and there’s a video component. If you can’t, your problem is bigger than me. You got this.***

For the last four years I've worked for the U.S. Ski Team as their Alpine Press Officer, traveling the world, working to make stars shine. To put it in terms most can understand, I often drive thousands of kilometers in the winter, carry bags that are far too heavy and borderline give me a heart attack (the men's speed team's is always the heaviest...can you say "divas"?! Haha, joking. Kind of.), make sure athletes are hydrated in the finish area and have snacks, ensure they don't have anything stuck in their teeth or boogers in their nose and they don't say anything that could negatively affect their or the U.S. Ski Team's brand image to the media. That's my job.

I'm in the background, usually smiling, wearing leggings of some sort and with a unicorn mask in my finish bag. I love amplifying athlete stories. I love storytelling in general. The passion I have for my work is something I'm very grateful for, and the places it takes me are stunning...from the sunrises in New Zealand to the chaotic mess of humans drooling over ski racing gods in Kitzbuehel - my eyes have seen far more than most can ever dream of. The relationships created and the memories made along the way, are something I will never forget. 

My work has become such a focus in my life (at times the lines are incredibly blurred between work and my personal life...almost too much so) over the last few years. Living on the road for nine months of the year, it's been challenging to find a home in Park City, where my headquarters lives. So, last year when I had the chance to live in a recreational vehicle purchased on a whim by my parents, I thought...why not just live at my headquarters?! And so it began. The Road to PyeongChang literally started at 1 Victory Lane, where I parked "Westward Ho" - as I named her. Home is where you park it, after all, right?! Or something...

Anyway, for much of the summer I lived in Westward Ho, and my friend Chelsea and I thought it'd be fun to put together a little spin-off of "MTV Cribs" deemed "COE Cribs". At the time, a nordic coach whom I lovingly referred to as my "H.O.A. president" was also parked at the office in a Sprinter. It goes without saying that his vehicle was cooler than mine, but I think mine had much more character. Late night chats about the mobile life, sharing of bear spray and beyond - we bonded as a little #OneTeam community. 

Throughout the whole experiment, the biggest eye opener for me was how others reacted to my decision to live in 20-year-old RV. Every guy I talked to thought it was the coolest thing they'd ever heard. Most of the gals I talked to, though, cringed. Intriguing and fascinating learnings on human behavior, gender differences, and priorities that we have when we arrive to our 30s. I don't have kids. I don't have a husband. I don't have a home. I DO have a car (Aspen the Subie -  you've met her if you've watched the video. Actually, we're unsure of the gender there, so I should say "it."), a loving family and friends who support me, a sturdy set of backpacks (Thanks, Topo Designs), a roof over my head (now), a passport, and food (the buffet tour feeds me well in the winter - too well) I don't really need anything else. I see and experience things I've always wanted to see and experience, and though I'll likely get tired of moving thousands of miles every winter from point A to B and picking athletes' boogers, I am happy where I am at the moment. 

There were some drawbacks to the RV life...including the breakdown on the initial journey from Minneapolis to Park City with my friend Keely that featured an exciting towing experience by our new friend Doug (who let us borrow his car so we could go to a movie and a Mexican restaurant), and a stay in the middle of nowhere, Minnesota for a couple of days and some initial DMs to my now-boyfriend-then-Instagram-connection, who was also traveling across the country at the time (I slid in and asked if he had room for two gals in his car...he was already 130 miles beyond us). Additionally, there was the leaky roof which led to an attic flood that destroyed many of my clothes. However, for the most part, it was a good life, a good run, and I slept hard. I even kind of miss my morning wake up calls by athletes on the slack line outside my bedroom window, or my tea dates with my former supervisor at my dining room table. For a short time, it was a good time leading into a season that would have me travel across the globe, with the Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea as the pinnacle event. I hope you enjoy this limited edition episode of "COE Cribs" as much as I enjoyed making it. 

Shout-out to Chelsea for filming on the GoPro, and my sis Mikaela for editing it. And, of course, shout-out to my mother and father for still supporting me at #ageofjesus+2...and a big thank you to Westward Ho herself. 



Goal: Live life like Pippi Långstrump. Or a wolf. Or both. Whatever. Be whoever you are.

Megan Harrod

I am the sea and nobody owns me. ⚡️
— Pippi Longstocking

Remember Pippi Långstrump? For Americans, the name "Pippi Longstocking" may be more recognizable. According to Wikipedia...

Pippi is red-haired, freckled, unconventional and superhumanly strong – able to lift her horse one-handed. She is playful and unpredictable. She often makes fun of unreasonable adults, especially if they are pompous and condescending. Her anger comes out in extreme cases, such as when a man ill-treats his horse. Pippi, like Peter Pan, does not want to grow up. She is the daughter of a buccaneer captain and has adventure stories to tell about that too. Her four best friends are her horse and monkey, and the neighbours’ children, Tommy and Annika.

A couple of years ago a good friend (thanks, Tiitu) of mine told me I remind her of Pippi Longstocking, as she gifted me white long stockings with red and blue strips that she knit for a Christmas gift. To this day, I believe this to be the best compliment I’ve ever received.

You see, Pippi is not the norm. I'm not the norm either. I push. Sometimes I make people feel uncomfortable. I'm not a "yes gal." I'm more like a "why gal." Though it can sometimes be challenging to be this way in conventional environments, I'll never stop being this way. 

And so, when - as a blonde-haired, mid-thirties woman in this world - I run into situations where I'm expected to be less like Pippi and more like...say...little red riding hood, I'm in a little bit of a pickle. Have you watched Team USA gold medalist's Abby Wambach's Barnard commencement speech? If not, I'd recommend it. Got me all fired up last week. 

Abby Wambach's Barnard College Commencement Speech: "Barnard women, class of 2018, we are the wolves."

Like all little girls, I was taught to be grateful. I was taught to keep my head down, stay on the path, and get my job done. I was freaking ‘Little Red Riding Hood.’

The message is clear: Don’t be curious, don’t make trouble, don’t say too much, or bad things will happen. I stayed on the path out of fear—not of being eaten by a wolf—but of being cut, being benched, losing my paycheck. If I could go back and tell my younger self one thing, it would be this: ‘Abby, you were never Little Red Riding Hood, you were always the wolf.’
— Abby Wambach

Did you watch it? I know, I's long...and your attention span is short. But give her a shot. I'm not going to let you continue until you do. 

Okay, back at it. So I've been feeling a little low lately. I've written about what it feels like to be a strong woman working in a sea of men before. This isn't the first time. If I approach someone without my positive, bubbly, personality...I'm a bitch. Rather than assertive, I'm aggressive. I'm combative. That's a shame. 

And then I go back to things like what Tiitu told me. Pippi is a hero. She doesn't let people get to her head. So, today, when I was at home with a migraine not feeling well, and being the sad version of Megan not many people see, I reminded myself that being a little odd is OK. Sticking up for myself is OK. Staying firm in my beliefs and moral standards is OK...and, in fact, an admirable trait. Saying "no" when everyone else says "yes" is OK. And being a strong woman is...not just OK, but fucking awesome.

I will never stop being like Pippi. 

And just when I'm feeling low, a little sunshine comes my way. Today, it came in the form of an email from my former ski coach, Mark Navin. It was a letter he wrote to the Director of Admissions in February of 2001, after I had found out I didn't get into St. Olaf: my first choice. You see, I applied early action rather than early decision, with University of Wisconsin-Madison as my other option. But, during the winter of 2001 - and more notably when they told me "NO" - I wanted in to St. Olaf. Rather than opening that admissions letter and walking away with my tail between my legs, I said "they can't tell me no...I belong there." So, I decided to appeal the decision.

Here's the note Mark, a St. Olaf and Stratton Mountain School alumnus, wrote on my behalf: 

Sara Kyle                                                                                            February 20, 2001
Director of Admissions
St. Olaf College
1520 St. Olaf Ave.
Northfield, MN  55057

Dear Sara,

Thank you very much for taking the time to speak with me last week regarding Megan Harrod.  Megan has applied for and been denied admission to St. Olaf and I am happy to say that she is appealing the decision. 

My wife Erika (Heins) and I graduated from St. Olaf in 1995. We’ve known Megan since I started coaching the Alpine Valley Ski Team later in 1995.  It doesn’t surprise me that Megan has decided to make an appeal to the admissions department. She is a person of incredibly strong character and possesses a drive to succeed both in life and on the ski hill. I can honestly say that she has the spirit, enthusiasm, and passion of a St. Olaf Student.

One of the unfortunate aspects of alpine ski racing is that it requires high school students to miss a substantial amount of school. During the winter months, Megan typically practices two to three nights per week, travels every Thursday or Friday to the upper peninsula of Michigan or to Minnesota, races during the weekend, and returns to class on Monday morning. As a coach, I have always stressed that school must come before skiing and I believe that Megan has developed a good balance between the two, just as she would be expected to do at St. Olaf.

Prior to each season I ask all of our team members to set short and long term goals. In each of the previous four years, Megan has attained or surpassed the goals she set for herself. This fall, her long term goal was to gain acceptance to St. Olaf, earn a degree in English, and become a Journalist. I know that Megan can succeed at St. Olaf, but more importantly, she knows it. I ask that you please reconsider your decision. You will not be disappointed.


Mark Navin
Corporate Account Manager

Guess what?! I was a student-athlete who graduated Cum Laude. I was team captain for three seasons and an all-American skier my last season with the team. I wrote for the newspaper. I studied abroad.

He's right. They weren't disappointed. 

After all, how many of their alumni have gone to the Olympics?! How many of them have rollerbladed on a stage in front of 6,000 screaming Austrian fans?! Or wormed on stage at the Austria House in South Korea?

Not many. None? 

Never, ever, ever let anyone tell you you're not valuable. Never let them tell you "no." Push for what you believe...and then keep pushing. And, if you need to, tell them "GIVE ME THE EFFING BALL!!" Make them listen. It's not solely a matter of gender. It's a matter of respect for another human.

So when they tell you to be less loud, and less curious, and all they want is for you to be compliant, to be less be a bit more like little red riding hood - you know what you tell yourself? NO. Be yourself. If you're the wolf, be the wolf. If you're Pippi, be Pippi. Or both. And be proud of who you are, because you and your talents are a gift to this world.

And when no one else believes in you, believe in yourself. Because you can do it. And you will do it.