Mikaela Shiffrin said recently that she hopes to always be considered a "rising star."
"I don't necessarily ever want to be considered a star," she said. But it might be too late for that.
The skier from Eagle-Vail wrapped up her third straight World Cup title in slalom in March, days after her 20th birthday. This season she also competed in some giant slalom races, and she's working on super-G, an event more focused on speed than technicality. That means she'll be taking on more of her idols, including former all-around world champion Lindsey Vonn, who excels at speed events.
"One of the most exciting things to me in my breakout year was taking on my idols," she tells Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner. "Something that I always grew up dreaming about was being like Lindsey, being like Marlies Schild or Ted Ligety or Bode Miller, even though I'm a girl, but, you know, having that kind of success."
She adds, "probably when I was 13, 14 years old, I was like, 'I don't want to be like them; I want to be better...' It's not to say I think I can be better, but it's a good goal to shoot for."
Shiffrin is at home in Eagle County now, where she plans to ski through May. Then she plans to do some off-snow conditioning, before skiing in New Zealand and Chile to get ready for the start of World Cup season next fall.
Listen to the entire conversation by clicking "Audio" above.
Shiffrin on why she's trying giant slalom and speed events
"I guess it's a little bit of human nature to be greedy. I'm just looking for more, I guess... I'm still focused on slalom and giant slalom, but I really like skiing super-G, so hopefully a little bit of a speed element will make things more exciting... For 15 seconds I feel like I conquered the world, and then all of a sudden, I'm looking for the next challenge, and that's part of what makes me love this sport."
On why she wants to always be a "rising star"
"In my eyes, being a 'rising star,' it shows I'm still hungry, I'm still trying to learn, I'm still aware of all the things I have to learn. The idea of becoming a 'star...' it's like, ok, I am there, it's the end of the road. And I don't really want this journey to end."
On staying humble
"It is hard to stay humble. That's a struggle that I go through every single day, and something that my parents help me with tremendously. Especially at 19, 20 years old now, I'm at a phase in life where I would tend to kind of be arrogant by nature. It's a stage in life where girls, especially girls go through, where they want to be independent... don't want to take advice, especially from their parents. And my parents are the most essential part of my team, so I have a struggle with that on a daily basis to try to make sure that I am receptive to their advice and not pushing them away, because at the end of the day I wouldn't be here without them.
"I find it a huge compliment when people tell me I'm modest or humble, and an even bigger compliment when they tell me how good a job my parents have done raising me."
On what she does right before races
"Word searches... normally I race my mom, actually, so we have two of the same word search puzzles and we can't look at each other's, and we basically set the clock and see who can finish first. I don't know why -- it was something my family always did when we got together for, like, Thanksgiving. We would have word search competitions and play Scrabble and Boggle... Normally I win...probably mostly because I spent a year just practicing word searches behind her back so I could finally beat her...
"But every now and then she gets me by a word or two and I'm thinking, 'Oh my gosh, I'm off my game.'"