Teenager Shiffrin looks to shine in Sochi

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 10, 2014 at 11:02 pm •  Published: January 10, 2014

Like a typical teenager, Mikaela Shiffrin goes to the movies with friends, watches episodes of "Glee" and jams to all sorts of tunes in the privacy of her bedroom.

Of course, she's hardly your typical teen.

The 18-year-old may very well be the face of the Sochi Olympics, especially with Lindsey Vonn sitting this one out because of a right knee injury.

Shiffrin, the ski prodigy from Eagle-Vail, Colo., showed her promise by winning a World Cup slalom title last season. She's possibly the next big thing in skiing — once she adds more speed events to her calendar.

And next month, she will be introduced to a much wider audience on an even bigger stage.

Intimidating? Try Invigorating.

"It's an exciting thought," Shiffrin wrote in an email. "I can't let myself think about it because I have enough on my mind."

Like learning how to care for her new reindeer, Rudolf.

He was part of the prize package for winning a slalom event in Levi, Finland, two months ago. Shiffrin recently ordered a book to "brush up on my reindeer care" for when she visits him (she's not allowed to take him home — Santa's rules).

And while her Rudolf doesn't fly, she does — on the slopes, anyway. She already has six career slalom wins, which is second on the all-time slalom list among American women, trailing only Tamara McKinney's nine victories.

"She's a phenom," said Bill Marolt, the CEO and President of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association. "She has the athletic ability, the mental tenacity to do what she's done and will continue to do."

Still, she's only a teenager and her support team tries to keep everything as routine as possible.

Shiffrin's mom, Eileen, travels all over Europe with her, preparing home-cooked meals and making sure she doesn't get too homesick. There are really no firm rules, either, because Shiffrin is hardly your rebellious youth.

"She tends to be in bed when she should be," her mom said. "She likes to be rested and eat well and she knows what works for her.

"We try to support her. We don't lay down the law."

Given her surging popularity — she won a slalom race last weekend in Bormio, Italy — the interview requests have been nonstop. Shiffrin's manager, Kilian Albrecht, tries to keep the distractions to a minimum.

"Skiing is the focus for now," he said. "She needs to have time to train and prepare. She's only 18. You've got to make this right for her."

Part of that involves not loading down Shiffrin with too many endorsement or sponsorship responsibilities. She has a deal with Italian pasta maker Barilla and another with Procter & Gamble, promoting Pantene hair products ("It has given my hair new life after all these years of weather beating," she said).

Albrecht said they have turned down several other possible endorsement offers.