Eagle-Vail’s Mikaela Shiffrin a rising star for U.S. Ski Team
Less than 24 hours before she won the first Audi FIS Alpine World Cup slalom title of her young career, U.S. Ski Team phenom Mikaela Shiffrin of Eagle-Vail was honored as the Longines Rising Star, signifying the top young female racer of 2013.
The award was presented in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, site of the finals.
The award came as no surprise, given the recently turned 18-year old (as of March 13) entered Saturday’s race only seven points behind overall, super G and giant slalom title-winner Tina Maze of Slovenia for a matchup for the slalom crown.
Prior to her come-from-behind win Saturday, Shiffrin had three slalom wins this season and is the World Championships gold medalist in the discipline.
Frenchman Alexis Pinturault, 21, captured the men’s Rising Star honor.
“One of my goals from the very start of my ski racing career was to be the youngest to win World Cups and make a mark as a young athlete,” Shiffrin said. “It’s really cool that Longines has this award dedicated to young athletes and success. It’s cool to push young athletes to do their very best, and this helps do that because we’re not always going to be competing for an overall globe or titles. It’s great to know that young athletes have something special of their own to shoot for.”
A few days earlier, Shiffrin’s teammate Lindsey Vonn of Vail won a record 17th Audi FIS Alpine World Cup globe and record sixth straight downhill title after fog forced officials to cancel Wednesday’s men’s and women’s downhill final.
Vonn won three of seven World Cup downhills this season and missed two because of injury after her super G crash at the World Championships.
Vonn’s sixth straight downhill title is a feat umatched by skiers of either gender.
Vonn’s 17th World Cup title pushed her ahead of the previous mark of 16 she had shared with former Austrian ski racer Annemarie Moser-Proell. Only former Swedish skier Ingemar Stenmark, often considered the greatest GS and slalom skier of all time, has more with 19.
On the men’s side, Ted Ligety of the U.S. picked up his sixth giant slalom win this season Saturday to join Stenmark as the only two men to win six or more World Cup giant slalom races in a single season.