Mikaela Shiffrin is an Alpine ski racer with the U.S. Ski team. With America’s best and most well-known skier Lindsey Vonn out of the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, the 18-year-old Shiffrin will be thrust into the spotlight as the gold medal favorite in February’s Winter Games.
Here’s the rundown on Shiffrin:
1. She Comes From a Family of Ski Racers
Mikaela’s parents, Jeff and Eileen Shiffrin, were both college ski racers. Her brother Taylor is a college ski racer at the University of Denver.
Get a glimpse into Mikaela’s rise to the top of the skiing world below:
2. She Became the Youngest American Skier to Win a National Alpine Championship
Shiffrin won the slalom title at the U.S National Championships in Winter Park, Colorado, just a few weeks after her 16th birthday to become the youngest American to seize a national alpine crown.
3. She’s the Reigning Slalom World Champion
Shiffrin came from behind to win the 2013 Slalom World Cup Championship in Lenzerheide, Switzerland last March. Just a month earlier, she took the gold in women’s slalom at the 2013 Alpine World Ski Championships in Schladming, Austria.
Watch her secure the gold below:
4. Marlies Schild is Her Biggest Rival in Sochi
Austrian skier Marlies Schild is the biggest threat to unseat Shiffrin in Sochi. At age 32, Schild has 14 years on her barely-legal rival, presenting the classic battle of youth vs. experience. Schild is a four-time World Cup slalom champion and holds the most all-time slalom victories with 35.
5. She Doesn’t Want to Be Compared to Lindsey Vonn
Shiffrin isn’t crazy about the comparisons to Lindsey Vonn:
When they say I’m the next Lindsey Vonn, they are shooing her out the door, and I don’t think that’s fair,” Shiffrin said in a November 27 interview with TODAY.com. “Imagine being her, reading that someone is the next Lindsey Vonn — it’s like saying, ‘Get out of the way, there’s no room for two Lindsey Vonns.’”
Shiffrin idolizes Vonn and appreciates her contribution to skiing, but wants to create her own separate enterprise.
“[Vonn has] been one of my greatest idols for really long time, and it’s even cooler that she’s one of my teammates,” Shiffrin added. “I appreciate who she is and what she’s done for the sport. But she’s not done — she’s not even really close to done. Let her have her success and let me have my own — just call me Mikaela Shiffrin.”