In 2013, American skier Mikaela Shiffrin won a gold medal at the World Championships and became the youngest woman in 39 years to claim the slalom season title.
Skier Mikaela Shiffrin was born on March 13, 1995, in Vail, Colorado. Following a training schedule that placed a heavy emphasis on drills, she won a prestigious junior event in 2010 and the first of consecutive U.S. slalom titles in 2011. In 2013, Shiffrin won the slalom gold medal at the World Championships and became the youngest woman in 39 years to claim the season title in the discipline. She also won a gold medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics in slalom, the youngest person in history to accomplish the goal.
Mikaela Shiffrin was born on March 13, 1995, in Vail, Colorado. Parents Jeff and Eileen were both competitive skiers before turning to their medical careers, and Shiffrin learned the sport on a pair of plastic skis in her driveway at age 2.
After the family moved to New Hampshire in 2003, Shiffrin honed her skills through sessions with coach Rick Colt at Storrs Hill Ski Area, and with coach Kirk Dwyer at Burke Mountain Academy in Vermont. Unlike her peers, who competed in races whenever possible, Shiffrin spent much of her time perfecting her techniques through hours of repetitive drills.
Shiffrin captured the attention of the international ski community with her slalom victory at Trofeo Topolino in 2010, making her the first American girl to win at Italy's prestigious junior event since Lindsey Vonn in 1999.
Shiffrin notched her first NorAm victory in a combined event in December 2010, and fought off illness to snag a bronze medal at the Junior World Championships a few weeks later. Shortly after making her World Cup debut in March, she won the slalom event at the U.S. National Championships.
Shiffrin joined the World Cup competition full time for the 2011-12 season, touring Europe with her mom in tow to cook and help with her studies. The arrangement proved a success, as she earned her first World Cup medal with a slalom bronze in December 2011 and was named the circuit's rookie of the year. Shiffrin also successfully defended her slalom title at the 2012 U.S. Championships.
Any notion of Shiffrin needing time to catch up to the competition was shattered by her first World Cup slalom victory in December 2012. She won three more World Cup slalom events that season, as well as the gold medal at the 2013 World Championships. At the conclusion of the season, she became the youngest woman in 39 years to claim the overall slalom title.
Shiffrin's graduation from Burke Mountain Academy in June 2013 served as a reminder that her career was still in its early stages. However, with her victory at the World Cup slalom opener in November 2013, she was also seen as a strong contender for a medal in the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
2014 Sochi Winter Olympics
At age 18, Shiffrin competed in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Having already won the title of slalom world champion—the youngest in history—the year prior, all eyes were on the young competitor. Shiffrin dominated her first run, and while she nearly crashed during her second run, she recovered in time to complete the course. With a time of 1 minute and 44.54 seconds, Shiffrin took home the gold medal in women's slalom, the youngest winner in Olympic history for that category. She was also the first American to win the event in 42 years.