Mikaela Shiffrin - Biography
Mikaela Pauline Shiffrin is a two-time Olympic gold medalist and World Cup alpine skier from the United States. She is a three-time World Cup overall champion, four-time world champion in slalom, and six-time World Cup discipline champion in that event. At 18 years and 345 days, Shiffrin is the youngest slalom champion in Olympic alpine skiing history. Shiffrin equaled Ted Ligety and Andrea Mead Lawrence for the most Olympic gold medals ever won by an American Olympian in alpine skiing by winning her second Olympic gold medal in the 2018 giant slalom.
She is one of just five Americans to win the World Cup in its entirety. She is the most decorated American alpine skier in World Championships history, with 11 medals in all, including a record six golds. She is also the first and only athlete to win all six FIS Alpine Ski World Cup disciplines, male or female. In women' slalom, parallel slalom, giant slalom, super-G, downhill, and alpine combined, she has won World Cup races. At the age of 23 years and 9 months, she is the youngest male or female skier to win 50 World Cup races.
She has won 69 World Cup races, the second most by a female alpine skier of all time, including 45 World Cup slalom races, the most by any male or female alpine skier. She is the only male or female racer to win 15 events in the same calendar year, overtaking Marcel Hirscher by winning the final slalom of the 2018 season in Semmering. She became the first athlete, male or female, to win 17 World Cup races in a single season in 2019, shattering Vreni Schneider's 30-year record of 14 victories.
She became the first Alpine skier to win the world championship in the same discipline four times in a row after capturing gold in the Slalom at the 2019 World Championships.
Early years and background
Shiffrin was born in Vail, Colorado, to Eileen and Jeff Shiffrin, both of whom are former ski racers from the Northeastern United States. Shiffrin's father, Jeff, grew up in New Jersey but spent his weekends skiing in Vermont with his family; he raced for Dartmouth College in New Hampshire as an undergraduate. Her mother, Eileen, ran track in high school in the Berkshires in northwest Massachusetts, and her brother, Taylor (born 1992), ran for the University of Denver.
Mikaela's family moved to rural New Hampshire near Lyme when she was eight years old, where her father, an anesthesiologist, worked at Dartmouth–Hitchcock Medical Center. He moved to Denver after five years, but her older brother Taylor was a senior at Burke Mountain Academy, a ski school in northeastern Vermont, and remained in the east.
Shiffrin also went to Burke Middle School, although she moved to Colorado with her parents before returning to Burke. Mikaela has excelled in significant competitions since she was a child. She won both the slalom and the giant slalom in the Topolino Games in Italy in March 2010, when she was 14 years old, competing against skiers from 40 countries. She won a Nor-Am Cup super combined race in December 2010 in Panorama, British Columbia, after meeting the FIS minimum age restriction of 15 years. It was only her eighth FIS-level race.
Shiffrin then went on to finish second in a super-G, third in a GS, and first in a slalom in her next three Nor-Am races. She won a pair of Nor-Am slalom competitions at Sunday River, Maine, a few weeks later. Shiffrin won bronze in the slalom at the FIS Junior World Ski Championships in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, a month later (after having been down with a stomach flu the day before). Shiffrin selected former Croatian ski racer Janica Kosteli as her childhood idol in January 2015.
Shiffrin won her first World Cup podium on December 29, 2011, in a slalom in Lienz, Austria, during the 2012 Alpine Skiing World Cup. She began 40th and lost her left shin guard halfway down the first run, but finished 12th. The 16-year-old Shiffrin then finished third in the second run with the quickest time.
Shiffrin won her maiden World Cup race at the age of 17 in a night slalom in re, Sweden, in December 2012. After Judy Nagel, she became the second-youngest American to win an alpine World Cup event (17 yr, 5 mo.). Shiffrin won her second night slalom two weeks later in Zagreb, Croatia, and her third night slalom 11 days later in Flachau, Austria. She won the 2013 season title in the slalom discipline after winning the slalom at the World Cup finals in Lenzerheide. Despite spending the most of her senior year of high school in Europe competing in the World Cup, she graduated from Burke Mountain Academy on time in June.
Shiffrin began the 2014 season at Sölden, Austria, in October 2013, with a career-best sixth place in giant slalom, just a half-second off the podium. She won the next event, a slalom in Levi, Finland, bettering her podium performance the year before for her fifth World Cup win. She finished second in the giant slalom at Beaver Creek, her first World Cup podium in that event. Shiffrin won a two-run slalom competition in Bormio, Italy, on January 5 (the race was held there instead of Zagreb, as planned, due to poor snow and weather circumstances).
She also won the world cup slalom races at Flachau, re, and Lenzerheide to win her third World Cup slalom title in a row. Shiffrin finished the season as the Olympic, World Cup, and world slalom champion. She was named one of ESPNW's Impact 25 that year.
Season 2015, 16, 17, 18
Shiffrin won her first World Cup race in giant slalom at Sölden in October 2014, kicking off the 2015 season. She struggled with slalom at initially, finishing outside the top three in the first three World Cup slalom events, but then won at Kühtai, Zagreb, Maribor, re, and Méribel. She went on to win the slalom world cup title for the second time. Shiffrin also won the World Championship in slalom, which was held in Beaver Creek, Colorado, near her hometown of Vail.
Shiffrin won by significant margins in the first two slalom races of the 2016 season, both in Aspen, and in her first race, she set a new record margin for women's slalom, 3.07 seconds over the runner-up. She slipped and damaged her knee on December 12, 2015, while warming up for the giant slalom in re. Shiffrin returned to racing on February 15, 2016, after a two-month layoff, winning her 18th race in Crans-Montana. She won all five slaloms she competed in during the 2016 season. Due to injuries, she was unable to compete in the remaining five slaloms and elected not to compete in a parallel slalom in Stockholm.
In October 2016, Shiffrin finished second in giant slalom at Sölden, kicking off the 2017 season. This was followed by a slalom victory on November 12 at Levi. She placed fifth in giant slalom at Killington on November 26, 2016, in her maiden World Cup race in Vermont, but she came back the next day to win the slalom. She won the gold medal in slalom and silver in giant slalom at the World Championships in St. Moritz in February.
She became the first woman to win three straight gold medals in slalom at the World Championships in the World Cup era, and the first since Germany's Christl Cranz in 1939, when the Worlds were held annually. Shiffrin won her maiden super combined race at Crans-Montana on February 26. It was her tenth World Cup victory of the season, and she maintained her overall lead in the standings. She has won more World Cups before the age of 22 than Ingemar Stenmark, the all-time leader in World Cup wins.
Shiffrin began the 2018 season by finishing fifth in giant slalom at Sölden. In early December, she competed in downhill at Lake Louise, where she finished third, and the next day, she won her first downhill race in only her fourth start.
She began 2018 with winning the City Event in Oslo, Norway, becoming the first woman to win two City Events. She won the slalom two days later in Zagreb, Croatia. Shiffrin won her 39th and 40th World Cup races at Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, in the giant slalom and slalom, respectively. She went on to win the slalom in Flachau, Austria, matching Annemarie Moser-record Pröll's of 41 World Cup victories before turning 23. She also became the first woman in history to win the first five World Cup races in a calendar year, and the first woman to win five consecutive World Cup races in 20 years (since Katja Seizinger).
The slalom was held the day following the big slalom due to weather delays. She was able to climb up to second place behind Michelle Gisin of Switzerland after having the third fastest slalom run and many of the leaders in the first run making mistakes in the second. Her gold and silver medals gave her the most decorated American Olympian, the most decorated female alpine skier, and the second most decorated alpine skier overall, trailing only Marcel Hirscher of Austria, who won two gold medals. Shiffrin won her second World Cup overall title in a row on March 9, 2018, with five races remaining in the season.
She won the slalom by 1.58 seconds over Wendy Holdener of Switzerland at the World Cup Finals in re, Sweden, her 12th victory of the season. This tied her for second place with her teammate Lindsey Vonn for the most World Cup wins by a woman in a single season, trailing only Swiss skier Vreni Schneider's 14 wins.
She became the first alpine skier — male or female — to win all six presently contested alpine skiing disciplines on December 2, 2018, when she won a super-G race at Lake Louise. Slalom, giant slalom, downhill, super-G, combined, and parallel slalom are some of the most recent additions (also called a city event).
Since its inception to World Cup racing, Tina Maze and Lindsey Vonn have never won a parallel slalom event. Shiffrin became the eighth woman to win in the five classic disciplines with her first super-G World Cup victory at Lake Louise (not including parallel slalom). Lindsey Vonn, Tina Maze, Janica Kosteli, Anja Pärson, Pernilla Wiberg, and Petra Kronberger were among the athletes in attendance.
Shiffrin won gold in the super-G at the World Championships before placing third in the giant slalom, behind Vlhová and Viktoria Rebensburg, in windy, changing conditions. Despite suffering from a lung illness on the day of the competition, she went on to win a second gold in the slalom, making her the first alpine skier to win four World Championships in a row in the same discipline. She was the first skier since Tina Maze six years ago to win a World Cup in both a technical and a speed event in the same season.
She went on to win the slalom, her 16th of the season and 40th overall, tying Stenmark for the most World Cup slalom race victories. The next day, she won the GS crystal globe for the 17th time this season and the 60th time in her career, becoming the first skier to win the overall, super-G, giant slalom, and slalom World Cup championships in a single season. She went on to win her 41st slalom race, earning her the World Cup slalom race winner with the most wins.
Shiffrin had mixed results in the technical events in the early half of the 2020 season, winning three slalom races to open the season but finishing second to Petra Vlhova later on. In Giant Slalom, she had similar rank swings. However, her father died in an accident on February 2, 2020, forcing her to retire from the World Cup tour and her prospects of winning a fourth title in a row. She competed in the finals in Are, Sweden, but the race was cancelled due to a coronavirus outbreak.
As a result, Petra Vlhova took over the top spot in the slalom rankings following the World Cup in Slovenia, marking the first time Shiffrin had not led slalom at that point in the season since 2016, and Federica Brignone reduced her overall lead from over 400 points to just over 100, eventually taking over the overall lead, ending Shiffrin's three-year winning streak.
Due to a back ailment, Shiffrin missed the season's opening race weekend at Sölden, but she returned to compete in the first of two slalom races at Levi, where she finished second. Shiffrin has not yet regained her dominance on the World Cup circuit, but she has finished in the top six in every race she has entered, winning the Courchevel giant slalom in December and the Flachau night slalom in January, and finishing third in the slalom at Semmering in late December.
Shiffrin, on the other hand, was in excellent form at the 2021 World Championships in Cortina d'Ampezzo, performing maybe even better than predicted and taking home four medals, the most she has ever won in a single World Championship event. Many of the favourites suffered in the Giant Slalom, including World Cup leader Marta Bassino, two-time world champion Tessa Worley, and reigning world champion Petra Vlhova, who all battled in both runs, while home nation favourite Federica Brignone failed to complete the first.
Shiffrin took silver in the Giant Slalom after finishing.02 ahead of teammate Nina O'Brien and.08 ahead of Lara Gut-Behrami after the first run. She had a slim lead going into the second run, but a mistake at the top cost her the gold; even though she made up time at the bottom, it wasn't enough, as she finished only.02 seconds behind Gut-Behrami. With only a.09 second margin of victory, Austrian Katharina Liensberger climbed up to third, making it the closest Giant Slalom race in world championship history.
Shiffrin entered the slalom, the tournament's last event, with a record four world championship titles in a row. She battled in the first run, finishing fourth behind Liensberger, Vlhova, and Wendy Holdener with a 1.30 second disadvantage. She was able to pass Holdener in the second run, but was beaten by Vlhova and Liensberger, taking bronze and losing the slalom title for the first time in her career; however, her bronze medal gave her an 11th world championship medal, tying her with Anja Parson for the most medals won by an athlete since World War II, the most medals won by an athlete at the 2021 championships, and extending her relegation.
Final Scores of the World Championship
Shiffrin participated in her first World Championships in 2013, finishing sixth in the giant slalom in Planai, Austria. She won the world title in slalom two days later, at the age of seventeen.
Results from the Olympics
Shiffrin, who was favoured to win the slalom at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, led after the first run and nearly crashed in the second, but managed to win at Rosa Khutor. She won the youngest slalom champion in Olympic history, only three weeks shy of her 19th birthday. She had finished fifth in the rain-soaked giant slalom just three days before. She earned a gold medal in the giant slalom and a silver medal in the combined at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Despite being a favourite to win the gold medal in the slalom, she finished fourth.
Appearances in the media and documentaries
Shiffrin was interviewed on the Late Show by David Letterman on March 19, only days after her maiden World Cup finals in 2013.
On February 5, 2014, Shiffrin was featured in How to Raise an Olympian, a one-hour show on NBC television. It featured interviews with parents and coaches, as well as home film and photographs from each athlete's upbringing. It was hosted by Meredith Vieira and followed the experiences of seven US Olympians. The event was televised, with live social media elements added to each section to improve the experience.
Following her first gold medal, Shiffrin appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, where she sang 'Catch Phrase' with Reese Witherspoon and Usher. Shiffrin appeared on NPR's Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! on July 12, 2014, and won the show's Not My Job game at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Red Bull released the 48-minute video 'Peak Season: The Determination of Mikaela Shiffrin' in 2018 after documenting Shiffrin's training routine in 2017. In April 2019, NBC's Olympic channel dedicated 25 hours of prime time to 20 of Shiffrin's races from the 2018–2019 season, and her fan club also published a collection of highlights from the season.