As part of my role as Vice President of Awards for the North American Snowsports Journalists Association I had the honor of presenting ski racer Mikaela Shiffrin with the 2014 Competitor of the Year Award. If there’s a no spin zone in this industry, it only exists in ski and snowboard racing. In this arena one’s own hard work and subsequent results does the talking.
I first “met” Mikaela Shiffrin thanks to a photo taken by Tom Kelly, VP of Communications for the United States Ski and Snowboard Association that ran on the cover the Aspen Times Weekly during the week of the women’s World Cup held there in November 2012.
While I may not have recognized her name, the photo illustrated Mikaela’s power as a ski racer and the incredible angles she creates with her skis on hard pack snow. Her athleticism was even more impressive to watch live with thousands of other fans cheering her on to the finish line. Then just 17 years old, Mikaela finished seventh in slalom and ninth in the giant slalom.
By the end of that weekend in Aspen, not only did I know how to pronounce her name, but so did tens of thousands, and now millions of other skiers around the globe.
Now 19 years old, Mikaela is the reigning Olympic, World Cup, and world champion in slalom. In Sochi she became the youngest slalom Gold Medalists in Olympic Alpine Skiing history with a .53 second win over Austria’s Marlies Schild. Four days earlier, she made her Olympic debut placing fifth in the Giant Slalom.
Over the course of the past two winters, Shiffrin has claimed a total of nine World Cup slalom wins. In this PSA video promoting Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month, Mikaela tells us how it all started. Click Here