Mikaela Shiffrin won an alpine combined race in the heart of the Swiss Alps last February as she was drawing near the end of a season that would culminate with her crowning as the fifth American to win a World Cup overall title.
She had only two weekends left after three exhausting months of racing in Europe, with two races at Squaw Valley in the Sierra Mountains of northern California and two more at the World Cup finals in Aspen.
Transatlantic Flight From Switzerland
The approximate 5,600-mile transatlantic flight from Switzerland to Squaw is not how Team Shiffrin travelled. They turned around and stopped in South Korea to check out the slopes and venues for the PyeongChang Olympics, which will get underway this week. Since it doubled their air miles back to the United States, it was a calculated risk, and by the time Shiffrin arrived in Aspen, she appeared exhausted, but now they are getting paid for their troubles.
First American Woman to Win Three Medals
With a chance to become the first American woman to win three medals in skiing at one Olympics and the first American of either gender to win three gold medals, Shiffrin, 22, is sure to be the most prominent American athlete in any sport at the PyeongChang Games. On February 11, her first race in the giant slalom will air on primetime American television.
Shiffrin said, “I’ve never felt this way while skiing. “I’ve never felt so incredibly joyful to be racing, so confident in my abilities, those of my team, and the outcomes of our efforts. I’m in a good mental place, so I can handle the racing as well as the questions from the media. Although I know it can’t last forever, having all these performances is really exciting.
Single Olympics Medals
At the PyeongChang Olympics, Mikaela Shiffrin will be a medal favourite in the slalom, giant slalom, and alpine combined events. She also has a chance to compete in the downhill and super-G events. Here are some examples of Americans who excelled in the alpine disciplines during a single Olympics:
- Bode Miller: 2010 medals in gold, silver, and bronze
- Gold (2), 1952 for Andrea Mead Lawrence
- Gold (2), Tommy Moe, 1994
- Gold and silver, by Gretchen Fraser, 1948
- Gold and bronze, Lindsey Vonn, 2010
- Penny Pitou, 1960, Silver (2)
- Silver (2) for Julia Mancuso, 2010
- Jean Saubert: Bronze and silver, 1964
- Firsts in Mikaela Shiffrin’s career:
- March 11, 2011, at the age of 15 (turned 16 two days later)
- podium at a World Cup: December 29, 2011, age 16 (in her eighth World Cup start, shares podium with childhood idol Marlies Schild of Austria)
- Win the World Cup: December 20, 2012, age 17 (first World Cup slalom win for a U.S. woman since Lindsey Vonn in 2009)
- Medal at the World Championships: February 16, 2013, age 17 (third-youngest slalom world champion ever)
- Title for the World Cup slalom season: March 16, 2013, age 18 (first U.S. World Cup slalom champion since 1984)
- age 18 on February 21, 2014, Olympic medal (youngest Olympic slalom champion ever)
- World Cup giant slalom champion at age 19 on October 25, 2014 (not just a slalom phenom anymore)
- Giant slalom medalist at the 2017 World Championships: February 16, age 21 (now a medal favourite in GS as well as slalom)
- Title of the World Cup overall: March 18, 2017, age 22 (becomes fifth American to win most prestigious title in skiing)
- podium in the World Cup downhill: December 1, 2017, age 22 (finishes third in her third downhill start)