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At 22 years old, most would consider missing a friend’s birthday or falling behind on a favorite TV series to be a sacrifice. But for the youngest slalom champion in Olympic history, Oakley athlete Mikaela Shiffrin, those trivial missed events mean nothing but dedication to her sport.
The Vail, CO, native started skiing at the age of two, podiumed during her first World Cup season, and earned Rookie of the Year status at age 16. She then made history at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, becoming the youngest Slalom gold medalist in Olympic history and the first American to win gold in the discipline in 42 years.
Back in 2010, the eyes of the international ski community fell on Shiffrin thanks to her slalom victory at Trofeo Topolino in 2010. She become the first female American ski racer to win at the prestigious Italian junior event since Lindsey Vonn in 1999.
Shiffrin began competing on the World Cup circuit full-time for the 2011-2012 season at the ripe-old age of 16. Since then, she’s snagged 31 World Cup wins, four overall Slalom World Cup titles, and three World Championship gold medals. She won her first World Cup Overall title—the most coveted annual achievement in ski racing—during the 2016-17 season and currently has a huge lead in her defense of the title so far this season.
The silver bullet of Shiffrin’s success is simply that she outworks her competitors. From putting in endless hours on the slopes to crushing it in the gym, she’s all in 24/7. Shiffrin lives and breathes dedication, but never fails to smile and maintain a positive state of mind.
“It can be really grueling, this life,” Shiffrin says. “It’s not always sunny, it’s not always glamorous, and it’s rarely perfect. But everything—all the hours I put in at the gym, all the turns I make on the hill—it’s all worth it when I step into the start gate and can’t hold back my smile because I know I am living out my dream.”
Improving upon her skiing ability and fitness are perpetual top priorities for the young skier, and nothing describes her dedication more accurately than a video released as part of Oakley’s “One Obsession” campaign. Check it out below:
Though she’s still young in her racing career, Shiffrin has already established herself as one of the premiere talents of her generation. On the cusp of World Cup history and with another Olympics just around the corner, be on the lookout for the blonde-haired, hazel-eyed, always-smiling speed demon to become the face of the sport.
To learn more about Shiffrin and her passion for skiing, head to oakley.com/mikaela.