into a New GEAR
AT AGE 16, MIKAELA SHIFFRIN REACHES HER
FIRST WORLD CUP PODIUM BY ERIC WILLIAMS
An emotional day for the U.S. Ski Team ended with one of their own on the podium and another on to retirement.
For one run, American 16-year-old Mikaela Shiffrin was the fast-
est slalom skier in the world.
Coming down the Lienz course in the middle of the pack of the 30-
women second run, Shiffrin cut the line tighter than any other racer,
many of whom were nearly twice her age and packing much more
World Cup experience. She crossed the line with a temporary lead
of 0.56 seconds but knew 11 of the fastest women in the world were
headed to bump her down with first-run leads of their own. She wasn’t
worried. Instead, she felt relief for accomplishing at least her second-
best result yet, and had the youthful energy to want to keep skiing.
“I just tried to stay loose and let it go,” said Shiffrin. “The whole run
felt fast but it was more like the feeling of dancing or flying. I got to the
bottom and I wanted to go up and do it again.” Her second run ended
up being four hundredths of a second faster that any other. “I was
very happy to see the green light; I’ve never had that feeling before,
to be in first place in a World Cup event for any amount of time.”
Seeing the green leader’s box above her name for the first time at
a World Cup race didn’t trigger the expected finish area theatrics.
There was no swinging of poles or sprawling on the snow. Shiffrin’s
chin went to her chest and her thoughts flew over the Atlantic to her
J3 coach at Burke Mountain Academy, Kirk Dwyer. “He was one of
the first people I thought about as I went through the finish,” recalled
Shiffrin after the race. “I said, ‘Thank you, Kirk.’ He was a very big