VAIL — Eagle County natives Mikaela Shiffrin and Heidi Kloser can now add meeting the president to their list of accomplishments this year.
The local Olympians spent Thursday at the White House, exploring the grounds and embarking on an unguided tour before meeting President Barack Obama and the first lady.
“I’m taking pictures like it’s my job,” Shiffrin tweeted Thursday from the White House lawn. “Beautiful morning in the Capitol!”
The visit was part of an Olympic celebration in the nation’s capital that included the inaugural Best of U.S. awards program, which will recognize outstanding performances from the 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Games, as determined by a fan vote.
“It was great to see all our teammates and everyone again after the Olympics,” Kloser said. “And we got to meet the Paralympians as well, and they’re all super cool and super nice people so it was really great to get to meet them.”
The Best of U.S. Awards Show was taped on Wednesday at the Warner Theatre; Kloser got in a few days earlier to take in some sights.
“I’ve never been to Washington, D.C., before, so my mom and I came a few days earlier than the rest of the team,” Kloser said. “We went and looked at some of the museums and monuments, it was really fun.”
The 2014 Olympians were invited to a self-guided tour of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. on Thursday, and they were even allowed up to the second-floor family residence area, a rare treat for White House visitors.
“They opened a bunch of rooms to us. There were people standing in the rooms and they let us walk around and ask questions,” Kloser said. “Then we went upstairs, they served us some food up there and we were all sitting on the floor waiting for the president to come. Everyone shook his hand and Michelle Obama gave everyone hugs.”
WATCH ON MONDAY
Shiffrin, who won the gold in slalom at the 2014 Games, was nominated for Best Female Olympian in Wednesday’s Best of U.S. awards.
The winners of the Best of U.S. awards were determined via fan voting on Facebook. Winners in each of the 10 categories will be announced during the awards show, which will feature athlete and celebrity presenters.
Awards will be presented in the following categories: Best Male/Female Olympian, Best Male/Female Paralympian, Team of the Olympic/Paralympic games, Moment of the Olympic/Paralympic games, Fan of the Games and the USG Building Dreams Award, which honors an individual who has gone above and beyond in his/her support of Team USA athletes.
A nominating committee, comprised of U.S. Olympic Committee, athlete and media representatives, selected the finalists for the individual athlete and team categories, as well as the Moment of the Games, based on nominations from each National Governing Body.
All of the action, including highlights of the athletes’ red carpet arrivals, will be aired during The Best of U.S. Awards Show on Monday on NBCSN from 5 to 6 p.m.