With the 2018 Winter Olympics set to get underway, CBS Local Sports will be profiling five young, up-and-coming, Olympic athletes whose names you will likely hear a lot during the course of the Games. These athletes are our “Rising Stars” for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea.
Alpine skiing has had its share of dominant American names through the years. Bode Miller and Ted Ligety on the men’s side, Lindsay Vonn and Julia Mancuso on the women’s side. Now, there’s another young woman looking to etch her name into Team USA Olympic lore: 22-year-old Mikaela Shiffrin. If you watched the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, you likely remember Mikaela’s name. She won the gold medal in the slalom at the last Olympics at the ripe old age of 18.
That victory made her the youngest athlete in history, male or female, to win an Olympic slalom gold medal.
Since then, Shiffrin has gone on to win gold in the slalom at the World Championships in 2015 and 2017 as well as a silver medal in the giants slalom in 2017. In her young career, she’s already recorded 41 career victories, which is already the second-most of any American woman, behind only Vonn who has 77. In addition, she has reached the podium in 59 of her 123 World Cup starts.
Heading into this year’s Olympics, she’s been on a tear, as during the 2017 season, Shiffrin racked up six slalom victories, three giant slalom wins and one alpine combined. That’s in addition to the gold and silver she took home at the World Championships at St. Moritz, Switzerland and earning her fourth World Cup slalom victory and first ever Overall title.
Shiffrin began as a mostly tech skier (slalom and giant slalom), but has started to add the speed events (downhill and super-G) to her repertoire in recent seasons. She ranked 36th in super-G in the 2016 World Cup standings and followed that up by moving up to 24th last year, ranking 22nd so far in the 2018 season. In the downhill, her improvement has been even sharper, finishing 36th in last year’s rankings and currently sitting 2nd in the 2018 season. At the most recent event in Cortina, she finished 3rd, under a half-second behind Vonn.
In PyeongChang, Shiffrin will definitely be racing in the slalom and giant slalom events, and she could also add the speed races to her program. If she does, she will be competing against Vonn who is making her return to the Olympics after missing 2014 with an injury. The buzz around what Shiffrin could possibly accomplish has already begun.