Eagle-Vail’s Mikaela Shiffrin juggling busy summer schedule
December 9, 2013
AVON — Crowned world champion of Schladming, VIP Snow Queen of Zagreb and even Snow Space Princess of Flachau, Mikaela Shiffrin has been accumulating so many trophies and race-winning gifts that she's begun asking friends and family to hold on to many of them.
But Shiffrin's most cherished prize of all, the 2013 World Cup slalom globe — which celebrates her season-long title in that discipline and come-from-behind victory over Tina Maze — makes its home in Eagle-Vail.
The 18-year-old passed through town last week as part of a busy summer schedule that has included stays on the East Coast and in Park City, Utah. Jaunts to New Zealand and Chile for offseason training will consume most of the next couple months for Shiffrin.
In Avon last week, Shiffrin and her mother Eileen sat in for an interview with Fox Sports conducted by gold medalist Picabo Street, one of the many pre-Olympic media obligations the rising star has had to fulfill this offseason.
"It's been good, really busy," Shiffrin said. "We've been doing lots of media stuff, and I've been taking German since right after I graduated (high school). We went to visit family in the East before we came back to Vail. Then, I had a week at home before I went out to Park City for some training. … So it's been really busy, but I feel like I'm almost starting to get into a rhythm: Wake up. Answer some questions. Do some German. Answer some more questions. Work out. Go to bed."
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Shiffrin earned a high school diploma earlier this summer from Burke Mountain Academy, a race-specific boarding school in northern Vermont. While the World Cup has almost entirely pulled her away from campus the past couple years, Shiffrin has maintained strong ties to the "Burkie" community.
"It was really fun. Burke graduation is a really cool experience. It's always a small graduating class, so they do it a little differently," she said.
After another quick trip to Park City, Shiffrin will depart for New Zealand next week. It's been eight weeks since she was last on snow, which might as well be an eternity for the Olympic hopeful who won't venture away from the ski hill for very long between now and the end of the winter.
Focus on GS
On the docket this offseason is to further dial in the new GS skis — which underwent new sidecut regulations in 2012 — and lay the groundwork for even more success in that discipline. By the numbers, Shiffrin was the best slalom skier in the world last winter, but with the fastest second-run GS times at a couple different stops, the young gun could be poised to make a name for herself in the second technical discipline.
"I'm going to try to dial in my GS a little more," Shiffrin said. "I know there's some new stuff going on with Atomic GS skis, and they're really excited about being able to try out the new stuff. With the (2012) changes in the GS skis, everyone is just in a race to find out what works best.
"My GS is really starting to take off, and I'm making some huge improvements, figuring some stuff out with equipment, how my boots and skis work together to make it more user-friendly. I've been having a lot of fun with it."
At Beaver Creek in early April, Shiffrin strapped on downhill boards for the first time in her life to train nearly full-length speed along with the elite U.S. speed team on the new women's 2015 World Championship course, which runs parallel to the men's Birds of Prey track. At the time, the tech specialist said she might, this season, begin to incorporate into her schedule a couple super combineds (which consist of one run of downhill or super-G and one run of slalom). But upon further consideration, Shiffrin will again stick to GS and slalom this winter.
"I'm starting to figure out, especially the past few weeks, I've been really busy," Shiffrin said. "I've been thinking about speed, but now it's more for training and getting used to going fast — and it's also helping me with my GS. But otherwise, I'm going to focus on tech and try to keep it simple this year. I'll dabble in speed over the next few years."