Mikaela Shiffrin was honored with the Longines Rising Star award today in Lenzerheide. The award, presented by the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup timing partner, is presented to the top young skiers of the season (woman under 21, male under 23).The prestigious award recognizes Shiffrin as the top young female skier of 2013, and comes hours before she goes head-to-head with Slovenia’s Tina Maze for the slalom title during Saturday’s final. On the men’s side, Alexis Pinturault of France was bestowed with the Rising Star honor.
Shiffrin spoke about the award, saying, “One of my goals from the very start of my ski racing career was to be the youngest to win World Cups and make a mark as a young athlete. It’s really cool that Longines has this award dedicated to young athletes and success. It’s cool to push young athletes to do their very best and this helps do that because we’re not always going to be competing for an overall globe or titles – it’s great to know that young athletes have something special of their own to shoot for.”
Earlier in the season, Shiffrin was honored as the USOC Athlete of the Month in January and February, and was named World Cup Rookie of the Year by her fellow World Cup skiers in 2012. At this point the 18 year old’s trophy shelf must be getting crowded, and with luck, tomorrow’s event will add a crystal globe to her collection.
With just 7 points separating them in the slalom point standings, Shiffrin looks to overtake Maze in the Audi FIS Alpine World Final. Tina Maze has already secured both the super G and giant slalom titles this season, and has her sights on a third. While it won’t be an easy fight, the teen skiing sensation has proven herself as a force to be reckoned with in the discipline. Shiffrin has won three slalom events, captured the podium twice, and is the World Championships gold medalist in the discipline.
Shiffin gave her perspective on the matchup between herself and Maze, explaining, “They keep saying Saturday’s race is going to be the battle of the ages, but it’s really not about me versus Tina [Maze]. It’s about me against the clock and against every other racer in the field. There are such a strong group of slalom skiers in this race and I’m thinking about how I have to be fast against all of them. Of course my goal is to win, I want to take the slalom title. But if Tina wins, I’ll still be so happy. This has been such a special season already and I feel so fortunate to be in a position where I’m competing against someone like Tina, who has won in all disciplines this year.”
Alpine fans can catch the race streaming live on UniversalSports.com with television broadcast on the network at 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. ET. Viewer can also tune in via stream and broadcast for the men’s giant slalom Saturday featuring World Champ Ted Ligety, who has already wrapped up the discipline title.