Two-time 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. In 2015 she really wowed us—successfully defending her World Championship slalom title on home turf under immense pressure at Vail/Beaver Creek, and then snagging her third-straight slalom title. During the 2016 season, Shiffrin sustained a knee injury during a warm-up run in Are, Sweden in December and was sidelined. That didn't stop her for too long, though—she came back and went on to win all of the remaining slalom races she competed in on the World Cup tour.
In 2017, Shiffrin had an impressive season — grabbing six slalom victories, three giant slalom victories and one alpine combined victory to her trophy case. In fact, the word "impressive" is quite the understatement. Add to that her third straight World Championship slalom title and a silver medal in the giant slalom in St. Moritz, Switzerland, along with her fourth career World Cup slalom title and her first-ever Overall title, and it's quite clear Shiffrin's dominance continues to move forward full steam ahead. Watch out, PyeongChang...she's coming for you!
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 five 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. And again in 2015 with five more wins. Three straight World Cup slalom titles, folks.
- She became the youngest woman in U.S. history to win a World Championship and the youngest athlete in history (male or female) to win an Olympic slalom gold medal.
- Shiffrin has notched 31 career World Cup wins across three disciplines and holds the U.S. record in slalom. She snagged her first giant slalom victory in 2015 at the season-opener in Soelden and added three more to her trophy case in 2017, including a sweep in Semmering and a win on home soil in Squaw Valley, California. She also won her first alpine combined in Crans Montana, Switzerland in 2017.
- With 31 career wins (as of March 2017), Shiffrin has the second-most World Cup victories by a U.S. woman, behind only Lindsey Vonn with 77. And she's only 22 years old.
- In the 2016 slalom opener at Aspen, Shiffrin blew away a 34-year-old winning drought in Aspen, with no American woman standing on top of the Audi FIS Ski World Cup podium at Aspen since Tamara McKinney won in 1981. And Shiffrin didn’t just break the record; she annihilated it, winning the race by 3.07 seconds. That margin broke yet another record—it was the largest women’s slalom win margin since 1968 by .07 seconds.
- Shiffrin won all five of the slalom races she competed in during the 2016 season, and she did it by a combined time of 10.56 seconds—that's a 2.11-second average margin of victory.
- In 2017 at the St. Moritz, Switzerland World Championships, Shiffrin grabbed her third-straight slalom title.
- During the 2017 season, Shiffrin snagged two tech series gold medal sweeps—in Semmering and Squaw Valley. She also recorded three victories on home soil—two in Squaw Valley, California (one giant slalom and one slalom) and one in Killington, Vermont.
- Shiffrin joined an elite group of American skiers in 2017, becoming just the fifth to win an Overall title, and she did it at a mere 22-years-old. She also won her fourth World Cup slalom title and was second overall in the giant slalom standings.
With four giant slalom victories and an alpine combined victory now under her belt and speed now in her arsenal, she’s a legit threat in four disciplines. Safe to say…the future is bright for Shiffrin heading into a big Olympic year. Bring it on, Pyeongchang!
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 free ski 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."
- Burke Mountain Academy/Ski and Snowboard Club Vail
- 2014 Sochi
- 2018 Pyeongchang
- Burke Mountain Academy
- Years on Team: 7
Teams: 2014, 2018
Gold, SL, Sochi, RUS, 2014
5th, GS, Sochi, RUS, 2014
Gold, GS, PyeongChang, KOR, 2018
Teams: 2013, 2015, 2017
Gold, SL, St. Moritz, SUI, 2017
Silver, GS, St. Moritz, SUI, 2017
Gold, SL, Vail/Beaver Creek, USA, 2015
8th, GS, Vail/Beaver Creek, USA, 2015
Gold, SL, Schladming, AUT, 2013
6th, GS, Schladming, AUT, 2013
40 World Cup victories
Overall and slalom World Cup titles and second in giant slalom, 2017
Three-straight World Championship SL titles (2013, 2015, 2017)
Five SL victories in all five races competed, 2016
Holds record for largest win margin in slalom for women, with 3.07 seconds, 2016
Three-straight World Cup slalom titles 2013-2015
First World Cup giant slalom win in 2015 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
2015, SL, Sugarloaf, ME
2013, GS, Squaw Valley, CA
2012, SL, Winter Park, CO
2011, SL Winter Park, CO
2017 Beck International Award - USSA top annual honor
2013-2015 Longines Rising Star
2012 World Cup Rookie of the Year
Two-time ESWA Golden Ski Award winner 2011-2012
Seven-time Ski Racing Magazine Junior of the Year 2011-2016
2011 Junior World Championships bronze in SL
2011 NorAm SL champion