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Alpine Athletes  »  Mikaela Shiffrin

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Height
5-7
Weight
145
 

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Olympic gold medalist 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, and then ski fans and coaches went cross-eyed when she landed a World Cup podium during her rookie season – at age 16. She then proceeded to blow the world apart with a World Championship slalom gold medal and the World Cup slalom title during her sophomore year. She topped herself again in 2014, earning five more World Cup wins, giant slalom podiums, an Olympic gold medal and a second-straight slalom title.

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 (2012), and then she let loose. Here’s summary of her past two seasons:

  • In 2013 Shiffrin became the first U.S. slalom World Cup champion since Tamara McKinney in 1983-84. She backed it up in 2014 with title number two by notching five wins.
  • She became the youngest woman in U.S. history to win a World Championship and Olympic gold medal.
  • Shiffrin has notched nine career World Cup slalom wins, equaling the U.S. record in either gender, also held by Tamara McKinney and Phil Mahre. They were 24 when they reached their nine wins.
  • She also tied Picabo Street with the third most World Cup victories by a U.S. woman, behind only Lindsey Vonn with 59 and McKinney with 18.

And let’s not forget that after two giant slalom podiums last season, she’s now a legit threat in two disciplines with the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships coming to her hometown. Safe to say…the future is bright.

MIKEALA SAYS
I guess my secret is not letting people tell me I can’t do it. Everybody thinks that this is impossible; you can’t win a race by 1.4 anymore. You can’t win the Olympics at 18. People say you can’t a lot and I never listen to them.

I wish I could have an American flag on my back in every World Cup, because that’s a really cool feeling to hold that and know that you’re representing not only yourself or your family or your team but also your entire country. I owe this to so many people and I’m really glad that I could share it with them. Really, it’s not just me up here, it’s the entire U.S. I’ve seen all the tweets and all of the support and all of the critics; every single one of them has pushed me to this point and I owe this to them as well.

I always dream of the best-case scenario and accept it if it doesn’t happen, but I’m really glad that it did today. I’ve just got to keep going. It’s an amazing feeling to win an Olympic gold. It’s going to be something that I chalk up as one of my favorite experiences for the rest of my life, but my life is not over yet.

FIRST TRACKS
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.

OFF THE SNOW
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 romantic comedies. "Don't even try to get me to watch a horror movie."

 

Highlights

OLYMPICS
Teams: 2014
Gold, SL, Sochi, RUS, 2014
5th, GS, Sochi, RUS, 2014

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

WORLD CUP
Back-to-back World Cup slalom titles 2013-2014
Nine career World Cup slalom wins
Two giant slalom podiums in 2014 season
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

U.S. CHAMPIONSHIPS TITLES
2013, GS, Squaw Valley, CA
2012, SL, Winter Park, CO
2011, SL Winter Park, CO

OTHER
2013 and 2014 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