Mikaela Pauline Shiffrin (born March 13, 1995) is an American World Cup alpine ski racer with the U.S. Ski Team, specializing in the technical events of slalom and giant slalom. She is the reigning Olympic, World Cup, and world champion in slalom. Shiffrin is the youngest slalom champion in Olympic alpine skiing history, at 18 years and 345 days.
Background and early years
Born in Vail, Colorado, Shiffrin is the second child of Eileen (née Condron) and Jeff Shiffrin, both originally from the Northeast and former ski racers. When Mikaela was eight in 2003, the family moved to rural New Hampshire near Lyme, where her anesthesiologist father worked at Dartmouth–Hitchcock Medical Center. After five years, he took a new job in Denver; her older brother Taylor was in high school at Burke Mountain Academy in northeastern Vermont, and stayed. Shiffrin also attended Burke for middle school, but went with her parents to Colorado, but soon returned to Burke.
Shiffrin began rising up through the ranks in alpine racing as soon as she was old enough to compete in FIS sanctioned races. While meeting the minimum age requirement of 15 years, she won a Nor-Am Cup super combined race in December 2010 at Panorama in British Columbia, only the eighth FIS-level race in which she had competed. Shiffrin followed it up by three podiums in her next three Nor-Am races: runner-up in a super-G, third in a GS, and victory in a slalom. Weeks later, she won a pair of Nor-Am slalom races held at Sunday River, Maine. A month later Shiffrin took the slalom bronze medal at the FIS Junior World Ski Championships held at Crans-Montana, Switzerland (after having been down with a stomach flu the day before). In 2014 she was named one of ESPNW's Impact 25.
Shiffrin made her World Cup debut on March 11, 2011, in a giant slalom at Špindlerův Mlýn in the Czech Republic. In early April, just a few weeks after her 16th birthday, she won the slalom title at the U.S. National Championships at Winter Park, Colorado, and became the youngest American ski racer to claim a national alpine crown.
On December 29, 2011, Shiffrin made her first World Cup podium at a slalom in Lienz, Austria. She started fortieth and lost her left shin guard halfway down, but finished in 12th place in the first run. Shiffrin, age 16, then posted the fastest time in the second run to secure third place.
Shiffrin won her first World Cup race in December 2012 at age 17, in a night slalom in Åre, Sweden. She became the second-youngest American to win an alpine World Cup event, behind Judy Nagel (17 yr, 5 mo.). Shiffrin's second win came two weeks later at a night slalom at Zagreb, Croatia; and her third win 11 days later at another night slalom in Flachau, Austria. After winning the slalom at the World Cup finals in Lenzerheide, she secured the 2013 season title in the slalom discipline. Though she spent most of her last two years of high school in Europe on the World Cup circuit, she graduated on time from Burke Mountain Academy in June.
Shiffrin opened the 2014 season in October 2013 in Sölden, Austria, with a career-best sixth in giant slalom, within a half-second of the podium. She won the next event, a slalom at Levi, Finland, improving on her podium finish the previous year for her fifth World Cup victory. At Beaver Creek, she was runner-up in the giant slalom, her first World Cup podium in that discipline. On January 5, Shiffrin secured first place in a two-run slalom race in Bormio, Italy (the race took place there instead of being, as scheduled, in Zagreb due to bad snow/weather conditions). She also won the world cup slalom races in Flachau, Åre and Lenzerheide, to secure a consecutive World Cup slalom title. Shiffrin ended the season as the reigning Olympic, World Cup, and world champion in slalom.
Shiffrin opened the 2015 season in October 2014 in Sölden with her first World Cup win in giant slalom. She had some trouble with slalom at first and ended up outside the podium on the first three World Cup slalom races, but did win the races at Kühtai, Zagreb, Maribor, Åre and Méribel. She ended up winning the slalom world cup title once again. Shiffrin also won the World Championship in slalom held in Beaver Creek next to her home city Vail, USA.
In the first two slalom races of the 2016 season, both in Aspen, Shiffrin won by large margins, and in her first race she achieved a new record margin for women's slalom, 3.07 seconds over the runner-up. On December 12, 2015, during the warm-up for the giant slalom in Åre, she fell and injured her knee. After two months away from racing, Shiffrin made a successful return in her first race back on February 15, 2016, where she took her 18th victory in Crans-Montana. In the 2016 season, she won all five slaloms she started. Unfortunately, she missed the other five slaloms due to injury, and chose not to compete in a parallel slalom in Stockholm.
In 2014, Shiffrin was featured in a one-hour special on NBC television, How to Raise an Olympian, on February 5. Hosted by Meredith Vieira, it chronicled the journeys of seven U.S. Olympians and featured interviews from parents and coaches along with home video and photos from each athlete's childhood. The event was broadcast on television with live social-media components to enhance each segment.
On July 12, 2014, Shiffrin was a guest on the NPR radio show Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!, where she won the show's Not My Job game at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre.
World Cup results
- 3 titles - (3 SL)
Standings through 19 Mar 2016
|2013||20 Dec 2012||Åre, Sweden||Slalom|
|4 Jan 2013||Zagreb, Croatia||Slalom|
|15 Jan 2013||Flachau, Austria||Slalom|
|16 Mar 2013||Lenzerheide, Switzerland||Slalom|
|2014||16 Nov 2013||Levi||Slalom|
|5 Jan 2014||Bormio, Italy||Slalom|
|14 Jan 2014||Flachau, Austria||Slalom|
|8 Mar 2014||Åre, Sweden||Slalom|
|15 Mar 2014||Lenzerheide, Switzerland||Slalom|
|2015||25 Oct 2014||Sölden, Austria||Giant slalom|
|29 Dec 2014||Kühtai, Austria||Slalom|
|4 Jan 2015||Zagreb, Croatia||Slalom|
|22 Feb 2015||Maribor, Slovenia||Slalom|
|14 Mar 2015||Åre, Sweden||Slalom|
|21 Mar 2015||Méribel, France||Slalom|
|2016||28 Nov 2015||Aspen, USA||Slalom|
|29 Nov 2015||Slalom|
|15 Feb 2016||Crans-Montana, Switzerland||Slalom|
|6 Mar 2016||Jasná, Slovakia||Slalom|
|19 Mar 2016||St. Moritz, Switzerland||Slalom|
World Championship results
|Year||Age||Slalom|| Giant |
Favored to win the slalom at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Shiffrin led after the first run and nearly fell in the second, but held on for victory at Rosa Khutor. Three weeks shy of her 19th birthday, she became the youngest slalom champion in Olympic history. Three days earlier, she finished fifth in the giant slalom, held in the rain.
|Year||Age||Slalom|| Giant |
Shiffrin's father Jeff grew up in New Jersey, but was an avid skier on weekends in Vermont with his family; as an undergraduate, he raced for Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. Her mother Eileen raced in high school in northwestern Massachusetts in the Berkshires, and brother Taylor (b. 1992), races for the University of Denver.