Mikaela’s red rocket
June 27, 2013
EAGLE-VAIL — Mikaela Shiffrin is already training for next season on the World Cup ski racing circuit. Wednesday, she got one more chance to celebrate the world slalom championship she won in March.
Local resident David Leach, a professional driver for Audi, Wednesday put a bright-red Audi RS5 sport coupe in the Shiffrin family driveway. Shiffrin knew the car was coming — she'd won the use of the car for a few weeks at a post-race party just after winning her title — but still gasped when she laid eyes on the red rocket.
"It's so beautiful!" she said before hopping into the driver's seat.
A self-described Type A personality, Shiffrin then started soaking up everything Leach told her about the car, telling him that she's not a "car girl," but would like to be one.
There's a lot to learn about Audi's techno-mechanical wonder-wagon. Leach explained why the 450-horsepower V-8 engine makes more power than last year's turbocharged models, from the high-pressure fuel injection to the remote oil tank that allows the engine to sit lower in the chassis to lower the car's center of gravity.
Shiffrin soaked it all in like they were course notes. And, while she was at first a little intimidated by all the bells, whistles and gizmos on the car, when it started with a muted, authoritative wuffle, she looked ready to put the thing in drive and hit the gas.
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Here's how the car came to Eagle-Vail:
In March, Shiffrin blitzed the course at Lenzerheide, Switzerland, on her second run, overtaking first-run leader Tina Maze, who had been dominating women's slalom all season. Maze ended up third that day, behind Shiffrin and Bernadette Schild. Shiffrin's second run — which made her the youngest world slalom champion in 39 years — landed her an invitation to a post-race party, hosted by Audi. There, in a drawing for various prizes, Shiffrin told the other women her great day would continue.
"I told them, 'I'm going to win the car,'" she said. "They said 'no you aren't.' But I did, and they ended up with soccer tickets."
While Shiffrin doesn't get to keep this Audi very long, she'll put some miles on it. She's headed to Park City later this week to continue offseason training there. Like most high-level sports, there's really no offseason for ski racers. When the season ended, Shiffrin took a little time in April, then got back to work dry-land training.
After some time in Park City, Shiffrin's schedule will take her to the Southern Hemisphere, including New Zealand. The World Cup season starts again Oct. 27, which puts her on the road for much of the next several month. That means giving back the car in a few weeks won't be such a bad thing, really.
Still, having this car, for just a few weeks, will give the young racer a taste of something she hasn't experience before. Until now, she's driven her mom's SUV and her dad's Mini when she needed to drive. Neither one of those rides come close to the Audi.
"It might give her even more motivation to keep getting better," mom Eileen said. "This could show her what's out there."
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2939 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.