Meet the reigning world champion of women's slalom skiing: Team USA's Mikaela Shiffrin, who has seen a meteoric rise to the top of the women's slalom World Cup in just three years. Shiffrin was just 15 when she started competing professionally in the sport, and will feature in the Slolam and Grand Slolam races at Sochi.
Shiffrin and her family, who have supported her Olympic ambitions by leaving their family home in New Hampshire and taking Mikaela to Europe, have said there is "no plan" when it comes to turning out a gold medallist. But whatever the approach, its working: The rapidity of Shiffrin's success is startling.
Her November World Cup win was the first for any member of a U.S. team since Barbara Cochran took gold back in 1972, and Shiffrin was named the FIS Alpine World Cup Rookie of the Year in 2012. And those on the slolam scene gush about Shiffrin's talent: Coach Dave Gavett, who has never trained Shiffrin himself, has pronounced her "A prodigy. She’s Mozart."
But Shiffrin herself is refreshingly humble. Just check out her Twitter feed: it's full of genuine homespun wisdom, inspirational quotes, and jewelry selfies.