Vail-Beaver Creek, home of the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, welcomed home Olympic gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin Friday with a huge celebration in Vail Village (John Dakin/VVF)
VAIL, CO (March 28) - A large crowd of residents and guests of the Vail Valley got the opportunity to welcome home their newest Olympic champion Friday evening, March 28, as the Vail Valley Foundation and the Town of Vail hosted the “Gold Rush” celebration for Mikaela Shiffrin.
Shiffrin arrived at Championships Plaza for the celebration on a Vail fire truck, accompanied by 2015 World Championships mascots Pete the Mountain Lion and Earl the Raccoon. She walked to the stage on a carpet that listed her World Cup wins and titles, along with her 2013 World Championship and Sochi Olympic medals.
On February 21, the now 19-year-old Shiffrin became the youngest Slalom champion in Olympic Alpine Skiing history, with her .53 victory in Sochi over Austria’s Marlies Schild. Four days earlier, she made her Olympic debut with a fifth place showing in the Giant Slalom.
When asked about how much of a whirlwind the last month has been, she replied, “The best part was getting off the fire truck and seeing all of you. I was trying not to cry.”
In addition to her Olympic exploits, Shiffrin recorded her fifth World Cup Slalom victory of the current season March 15 in Lenzerheide, Switzerland to wrap up her second consecutive World Cup Slalom title. Over the course of the past two winters, Shiffrin has claimed a total of nine World Cup slalom wins.
“We are truly honored to say that the Vail Valley is home to this great international champion,” explained Ceil Folz, president of the Vail Valley Foundation and head of the 2015 World Championships Organizing Committee. “We could not ask for a better ambassador to inspire the next generation of skiers in our community and our country.”
Presentations on the evening included a lime green cruiser bike from the Vail Valley Foundation and a lifetime ski pass from Vail Resorts. Sharing the stage was also one of the signs that were put up throughout Eagle-Vail during the Olympics, signed by the community.
In addition to special presentations, the Gold Rush celebration included free music, an autograph opportunity and the chance to be part of a community photo.
“We are thrilled that the community came out to welcome Mikaela home,” offered Folz. “We are obviously extremely proud of her accomplishments and look forward to even greater things to come, especially as we now look ahead to the 2015 World Championships in Vail and Beaver Creek.”
Scheduled from February 2-15 of 2015, the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Vail and Beaver Creek are expected to showcase athletes from over 70 nations, with an estimated 750 million worldwide television viewers and an onsite media and broadcast entourage of approximately 1,500 members.