Mikaela Shiffrin of Vail, Colorado made a spectacular breakthrough in front of a home crowd, finishing eighth in just her second World Cup slalom start.
In Aspen, on one of the circuit’s most challenging hills, the 16-year-old who began racing with Ski Club Vail was the only U.S. racer to qualify for the second run (by finishing top 30 in the first run).
Burke Mountain Academy student Mikaela Shiffrin began turning heads almost instantly when she finished top 15 of her first two NorAm Cup races. But the heads started spinning when she won a super combined in British Colombia two weeks later and transferred that momentum into a NorAm title and two World Cup starts as a first year J3.
The super combined win steamrolled into a giant slalom victory and two slalom wins on the NorAm tour – good enough for the slalom title and third place finishes in the season long overall, giant slalom and super combined standings. P.S. – she also had a NorAm podium on super G too and locked a slalom bronze medal at the Junior World Championships while racing with a cold.
U.S. Ski Team World Cup coaches got a glimpse of her skiing at the Aspen Winternational, where she was a forerunner for the annual Thanksgiving weekend World Cup. And when the results backed up what they saw in Aspen, Shiffrin got the call to join Olympians Lindsey Vonn, Julia Mancuso, Sarah Schleper and Resi Stiegler at the Spindleruv Mlyn World Cup stop in the Czech Republic. She was a mere .05 seconds from a second run of slalom, but the experience was well worth the trans-Atlantic trip.
Mancuso and Co. were definitely impressed, but even more-so when Shiffrin snatched the slalom title at the Putnam Investments U.S. Alpine Championships to close the season. When asked how she was going to celebrate, she said with a little algebra homework.
Needless to say, Shiffrin was appropriately named the 2011 Ski Racing Magazine Junior of the Year (formerly won by both Vonn and Mancuso) and also received the Eastern Ski Writers Association Golden Ski Award for the top junior in the East.