On Jan. 4, Ski Racing Media (SRM) published a story as part of its Zagreb women’s World Cup slalom coverage that addressed the issue of videoing by Petra Vlhova’s coaching staff in an effort to gain information about Mikaela Shiffrin’s training practices.
The story was quickly picked up by several publications in Europe, including Italy’s Gazetta, which misquoted SRM’s story in key parts of its re-reporting.
Additionally, Livio Magoni, Vlhova’s coach and one of SRM’s primary sources on this story, reacted in a self-filmed video response that was then published by Race Ski Magazine, an Italian ski racing publication. In that response, Magoni fabricates claims of an attack from another team and addresses false allegations of “industrial spying,” a term SRM never used.
Among his comments in that video were the following (translated from Italian):
“We were accused of spying, also industrial spying,” Magoni said. “We were accused of videoing an athlete, who we beat, and this seems to be ridiculous because there is no FIS rule or national or international rule regarding this. Anyone can do video to anyone if interested to do so.
“I have never sent anyone of my team to other resorts, where we were not training or competing. I have not the time to do so, as our team is really small. We must already share in two and work 120%. We do not have the ability to do such things,” he added.
“One more thing, it seems unfair to diminish the victory of Petra in Zagreb … and these accusations attempt to diminish this and our work. Petra did not arrive there just watching videos. … I don’t think videos make that difference. It’s instead the work, the focus, the team,” Magoni concluded.
Magoni fails to mention that he was one of SRM’s primary sources on the story, and without his on-camera comments, the story may not have ever been published.
SRM conducted two on-camera interviews as part of its reporting on the piece. The first took place with Mikaela Shiffrin in conjunction with NBC Sports at Copper Mountain in November of 2019.
In that interview, Shiffrin was candid about her disapproval of the videoing practice, saying, “You know, this is a battle I have in my own head. What I’m producing with my skiing, I see it as my property. That’s something that I’ve created with my coaches and with the people that I work with, that’s something that I’ve created intellectually and put it out for the world, like physically put it out there.
“But it does bother me sometimes when I see coaches from other athletes of other nations come out of their way to one of my training sessions at a different place than even they’re training to shoot video of me to just run away,” she said.
You can watch the full Shiffrin interview below:
In an interview with Magoni on Jan. 3, SRM again inquired about the videoing strategy and found the coach to also be candid about his team’s video operation. At the time, Magoni had few reservations and openly talked about videoing Shiffrin.
“It’s important to look at Mikaela because she is the best skier in the world,” said Magoni, among other comments. “For us, it’s really important because we can look really well at how to make some small improvements in the skis. If you are intelligent, you can really learn a lot. How the skiers are thinking, but also how the team around [them] moves. As a head coach, it’s important to see how others manage their teams.”
In an effort to provide complete transparency about the origin of the story, SRM is releasing the full, unedited version of the interview with Magoni:
SRM also feels it is important to call out the disparity between its original story and what was reported by the Gazetta. In that report, the Italian newspaper claims “industrial espionage” and attributes that characterization to SRM directly.
To be clear, SRM never used those words in its reporting. A full version of that original story can be found here.
SRM looks forward to having full transparency with the release of these interviews.