The Winter Olympics in Sochi are less than a year away, and no sooner than American skiing superstar Lindsay Vonn suffered a gruesome knee injury, another young phenom has stepped forward to capture the American public’s attention. Her name is Mikaela Shiffrin, and she may be the Winter Olympics’ answer to breakout swimming star Missy Franklin.
On Saturday, 17-year-old Shiffrin captured the slalom world championship. She finished her run in Schladming, Austria (sidenote: Is Schladming the best named ski site in the world? Prep Rally votes yes) with a time of 1:39.85, 0.22 seconds faster than Austrian hometown hero Michaela Kirchgasser in the 2013 World Championships.
There were 30,000 fans in attendance to watch Shiffrin become the eighth youngest skiing world champion in any discipline all-time. The Vermont-based teen is the third youngest slalom champion, and the youngest in nearly 30 years (since 1985, when American Diann Roffe won the slalom, also at age 17).
Fittingly, the Vail, Colorado-born teen was beside herself after the upset victory.
"It's such a crazy day," Shiffrin told the AP. "It's so emotional ... I don't know yet, I can't feel yet. It's amazing.
"I keep saying it, I keep thinking it. It doesn't make sense. It's just me.”
It may just be Shiffrin, but Mikaela was almost genetically engineered to be a champion skier. The Colorado native was born to two competitive ski racers. After growing up in Vail she began school at the Burke Mountain Academy in East Burke Vermont, a school designed specifically to accommodate the hectic international schedules of competitive winter athletes.
Add to that the 17-year-old’s looks and charm behind a microphone, and she is a ready made Wheaties box smash hit, particularly if she can keep up her current level of performance.
“I was thinking so many things and I just can't even remember it,” Shiffrin said of her championship-winning run. “It's one of those things where everything is a blur and that's how you know it was good."
It may be the first of many blurs to come for Shiffrin. From here out, many of the other ones may land her front and center on your television.
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