VAIL, Colo. (CBS4) – There must be something in the water in Colorado. We have this knack for turning teenagers into superstars.
Missy Franklin is already a household name, and now she has company: Mikaela Shiffrin, the 18-year-old skiing sensation from Vail.
Just before her 18th birthday Shiffrin won the world championships in slalom in Switzerland and a few weeks later took the season-long title in the same discipline.
“I’ve never really thought about ski racing from the standpoint of someone who doesn’t know ski racing but I guess everyone has a dream and some people want to be a firefighter, some people want to be the president and my dream was in ski racing,” Shiffrin recently told CBS4.
Shiffrin says it took a decade for her dream to come true.
“It’s like having this childhood dream and then actually accomplishing it which is just this crazy whirlwind of energy and it’s really cool,” she said.
Rika Moore was Shiffrin’s childhood coach at Ski and Snowboard Club Vail. She told Shiffrin “has all the makings to do what she does.”
“Of course it takes hard work and she’s a very hard worker,” said Moore, who remains Youth Program Director. “She was in the club when she was 7 and just a wonderful happy bright young girl with a big thick ponytail smiling and loving skiing. Those are the main ingredients for ski racing.”
Shiffrin credits her development in a large part to Moore.
“Rika was a huge part of the fun that I had and also development … and she was just always so positive and nice and if I wanted to learn how to clear the slalom gates she taught us,” Shiffrin said.
Earlier this month Shiffrin was training at Beaver Creek on the new women’s downhill course in preparations for the 2015 world championships, which are being held in Colorado.
“If all goes well then I’ll be racing here and I’m so excited to race at home in the middle of the season when, I mean I just got home two weeks ago … I was away for 5 months almost. So to break up that time and
actually be racing, so I’m still doing my job it’s going to be great,” Shiffrin said.
The Olympics will come first — in just under a year. But after her success this year, many in the ski racing world believe she will be on many more podiums like another Vail local and another Colorado teen phenom — Lindsey Vonn.
“We follow her season, we are very proud of her and we follow her every step of the way,” said Moore. “She’s the kids’ hero at the club.”