By Seth Rubinroit
As Mikaela Shiffrin prepared to walk down the red carpet at the ESPYS, she took a deep breath and reminded herself to stand up straight and keep her shoulders back.
“I am more nervous here than I am up on the mountain,” Shiffrin admitted.
A rare moment of vulnerability from the 19-year-old ski racer, as she rubbed shoulders with celebrities and sports stars on a sunny day in Los Angeles.
Shiffrin confidently turned heads at the Sochi Olympics, becoming the youngest athlete in history to win an Olympic slalom gold medal. She was already a star on the FIS Alpine World Cup circuit, but with Lindsey Vonn injured during the 2014 Olympics, Shiffrin became the face of the U.S. Ski Team. She appeared as a guest on the “Late Show With David Letterman” and twice graced the cover of Sports Illustrated.
Shiffrin did not have a lot of time to celebrate her success in Sochi. Just 11 days after the closing ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics, she returned to racing in the FIS Alpine World Cup.
The highlight of Shiffrin’s post-Olympic celebration? Getting her wisdom teeth removed in April, earning her a brief break from the sport.
“I had two weeks of doing nothing,” Shiffrin said, “but then I went right back to training.”
Part of Shiffrin’s training includes preparing for speed events. Already established in the slalom and giant slalom disciplines, she hopes to add super G to her portfolio.
“I might do a little bit of super G this season, but we will see how it goes,” Shiffrin said. “I’m trying to take it easy and manage my time wisely.”
This season, the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships will be held in Shiffrin’s hometown of Vail/Beaver Creek, Colorado. She will compete in front of friends and extended family for the first time, and she will have the opportunity to sleep at home in her own bed.
“I’m excited to see what that feels like,” Shiffrin said.
Despite being one of four nominees for the ESPY for Best Female Athlete, Shiffrin does not seem fazed by her newfound fame. She moved quickly through the red carpet and stood to the side as other stars strolled by.
“I’m not trying to let it sink in,” Shiffrin said. “There are other things to accomplish.”