Going for Gold
Mikaela Shiffrin - Olympic SkierMarch 26. 2018 12:44AM
Alpine Skier and two-time Olympian Mikaela Shiffrin, a member of the Team USA's Ski & Snowboard Team, holds two Gold medals and a Silver medal from her two appearances in the Olympics. In 2013, during the Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Shiffrin became the youngest woman to ever win Gold in Slalom. She also was the youngest woman to claim the slalom season title, in 39 years. She was only 18 years old. In 2018, she won her second Olympic gold medal in the giant slalom, tying Ted Ligety and Andrea Mead Lawrence for the most Olympic Gold medals ever won by an American Olympian, in alpine skiing. In the 2018 Olympics held in Pyeongchang, South Korea in 2018, she also won a silver medal in the Women's Combined.
And she didn't stop at the Olympics.
In March 2018, Mikaela took 1st place during the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup women's slalom in Ofterschwang, Germany. With this she broke another record: Mikaela is the first skier, at the age of 22, with 42 World Cup Wins. Taking first place also gave her the 11th win of the season. Although other women have beat her at this, for Shiffrin, this is her personal best. To win the overall Globe, which is considered the greatest prize in skiing, a skier has to accumulate the most World Cup points in an entire season. She has done that twice, in 2017 and 2018.
Shiffrin was born in Vail, Colorado on March 13, 1995 and she grew up skiing, while her mother, Eileen, served as Mikaela's first ski coach. When she was 8, the family moved to Lyme, New Hampshire so her father could take a job as an anesthesiologist for Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. They only lived in New Hampshire for five years but her and her older brother Taylor, who skis at the University of Denver, were on the slopes as soon as they could walk. Skiing at Storrs Hill Ski Area in Lebanon, the pair became racers by second grade. Her love of skiing really blossomed while living in Lyme, where she attended Burke Mountain Academy in Vermont until she graduated in 2013.
It was those critical years that pushed her in the direction of competition and skiing as more than a fun recreational interest.
"It's a feeling I've never really had anywhere else. Maybe driving would be the closest thing you get to it," says Shiffrin in a Red Bull documentary about her. She goes on to say, "You know, if you are driving on the highway and there's a big swoopy turn and if you hit it just right you just almost accelerate through the turn and you don't have to hit the brings."
"It's almost like you are dealing with a ball of energy and you're trying to constantly build energy to that ball...."
She also describes skiing as "almost playing around with trying to master gravity."
When Shiffrin is in top form and confident, she goes for the Gold and wins. Some would say over-confident. She did promise to compete in 5 events and take home five medals but only brough home two, but she's young and can be forgiven for her naivety. And, she's young enough to compete for many years to come so it will be fun to watch Mikaela grow as a skier and medalist.
It's certain that Mikaela will continue to have a bridge future on skis, but she's aware of the risk that she could be injured at any time. What makes her feel good, she explains, "is when I'm prepared, when I feel like my fundamentals are in a good place. And I feel comfortable skiing as fast as possible."
Keep your eyes on Shiffrin. There is definitely more to come from this "once-in-a-generation" talent.