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After becoming the youngest ever Olympic Slalom gold medallist at Sochi 2014, Mikaela Shiffrin looks set to remain at the top of her sport for many years to come.
Born a stone’s throw from Vail Ski Resort in Colorado (USA), Mikaela Shiffrin exhibited remarkable skiing talent from an early age. At 15, she competed in her first FIS-approved race, a Nor-Am Cup super combined event in Panorama (CAN). A few weeks later, the American youngster won a bronze medal in the slalom at the 2011 Junior World Ski Championships in Crans-Montana (SUI). A historic slalom success at the US National Championships followed, as did a breakthrough third-place finish at the FIS World Cup meet in Lienz (AUT) on 29 December 2011.
Shiffren came into her own during the following season, following up a maiden World Cup slalom victory in Åre (SWE) in December 2012 with two equally impressive triumphs in the same event in Zagreb (CRO) and Flachau (AUT). On 16 February 2013, the 17-year-old was crowned slalom world champion in Schladming (AUT), performing strongly in her second run to leap from third to first place. A subsequent World Cup success in Lenzerheide (SUI) saw her top the slalom standings and claim the small crystal globe.
Leading up to Sochi 2014Shiffrin hit a tremendous run of form in the World Cup, securing victories in Levi (FIN), Bormio (ITA) and again in Flachau. On the slopes of the Rosa Khutor Alpine Resort, she achieved her greatest success to date, becoming the youngest ever Olympic gold medallist (18 years, 345 days) in the history of the Alpine Skiing Slalom Event on 21 February 2014. After building up a sizeable lead in her first run, the precocious slalomist flirted with disaster in the second run, coming close to falling before expertly regaining her equilibrium and managing to maintain her speed. A month later, she secured a second successive overall slalom World Cup title, boosted by two additional wins in Åre and Lenzerheide.
“My dream now is to win five gold medals at the next Olympic Games. I know it probably seems crazy!” said Shiffrin after her Sochi triumph. While it is certainly an ambitious target, few would bet against the new star of women’s Alpine – who has already made great strides in the giant slalom and now looks ready to branch out into the speed events – achieving that goal.