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Recent Burke Mountain Academy grad (June 2013) Mikaela Shiffrin began turning heads almost instantly when she finished top 15 in her first two NorAm Cup races. But the heads started spinning when she won a super combined in British Colombia two weeks later. Tuned Ski fans and coaches went cross-eyed when she landed a World Cup podium during her rookie season – at age 16 – and then blew the world apart with a World Championship slalom gold medal and the World Cup slalom title during her sophomore year.

Shiffrin's meteoric rise into the World Cup elite wasn't a surprise to anyone who's been paying attention. With the work ethic and passion of a veteran, Shiffrin posted her first World Cup starts as a 15-year-old and nearly scored her first points. Her first podium happened a year later in 2012, then she let loose.

In only her second full season on the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup, Shiffrin nabbed World Champs slalom gold, four World Cup slalom wins (six podiums) and capped the winter with a legendary, come-from-behind victory in the final race of the season to clinch the slalom title. In terms of stats, go with these:

  • Shiffrin is the youngest American (man or woman) to win a World Cup title in any discipline and the first slalom champion since Tamara McKinney in 1983-84.
  • Fourth-youngest woman (all-time) to win the slalom globe and the sixth-youngest woman to win any World Cup title.
  • First non-European to win four World Cup slalom races in a season.
  • And if that's not enough, she's the youngest (man or woman) slalom World Champion in U.S. history.

Safe to say…her future is bright.

I think that half of the slalom globe belongs to someone else. I want to thank Tina Maze. She has really helped inspire me this season.

Winning the slalom title was my goal from the beginning of this year. The World Championships title was amazing, but it wasn’t a goal that I had set. I almost forgot World Championships were happening this year until they happened, and that was just a cherry on top of the cake. This was what I was really shooting for all season, to be consistently one of the top slalom skiers. So this title means a lot to me.

I think it’s most important that I just try to connect with the younger kids. Most of them say they watch the World Cup races, so I think they’ve seen the skiing and it’s probably cool to see it live. But I think the most important thing is that I get to have some time face-to-face with them and show them I’m not actually that different and that I’m a goofball. We can have conversations and they can get to this point.

Shiffrin was getting freshies down the family driveway at age three and quickly graduated to running gates at Vail.

"When I was a J5 I did a lot of freeskiing and I actually didn't like freeskiing. I just thought it was a waste of time and I would've rather been training or directed freeskiing. I always wanted to be thinking of something, whether it was arms forward or my parents had a saying 'knees to skis and hands in front’ – it's been drilled into my head and every time I get on snow that's what I start thinking. I did freeski a lot. I did do a lot of drills. It was probably 1/3 freeskiing, 1/3 drills, 1/3 gates, and I did a lot of mogul skiing. I loved skiing the bumps, just the rhythm, trying not to eat it on a bump was really fun for me."

All that balanced time on snow paid off in a hurry, and a couple of NorAm wins and a Junior Worlds medal prompted U.S. coaches to give her a call. While walking to her dorm at Burke, she noticed several missed calls from her coach and her father, plus "20 jillion texts." A few weeks later, she was in the start gate at her first World Cup - at age 15.

Shiffrin has no problem picking up a racquet and batting around a little green ball. "I love playing tennis and soccer, but skiing is definitely number one." Dad raced for Dartmouth and Mom is a Masters racer; big bro Taylor is also a collegiate racer and she is his No. 1 fan. Reading is also a distraction of choice, but she says it's tough to find time for anything other than textbooks. When it comes to movies, it's all about chick flicks and romantic comedies. "Don't even try to get me to watch a horror movie."



Teams: 2013
Gold, SL, Schladming, AUT, 2013
6th, GS, Schladming, AUT, 2013

SL title, 2013 at 18 years old.
Four SL victories, six podiums, 2013
First World Cup podium with SL 3rd in Lienz, AUT at age 16, 2012
Finished 17th in SL standings in rookie season, 2012
Made World Cup debut at 15-years-old, 2011

2012, SL, Winter Park, CO
2011, SL Winter Park, CO

2013 Longines Rising Star
2012 World Cup Rookie of the Year
Two-time ESWA Golden Ski Award winner 2011-2012
Three-time Ski Racing Magazine Junior of the Year 2011-2013
2011 Junior World Championships bronze in SL
2011 NorAm SL champion