Mikaela Shiffrin still starstruck by idol Bode Miller despite her skiing status | AspenTimes.com

Mikaela Shiffrin still starstruck by idol Bode Miller despite her skiing status

Mikaela Shiffrin signs autographs on Sunday, April 2, 2023, in Vail during a celebration in her honor after she broke the all-time record for most World Cup wins in a career this season.
Courtesy of Vail Valley Foundation

VAIL — Even though she’s the GOAT, Mikaela Shiffrin is still a bit starstruck by her childhood skiing idol, Bode Miller.

Shiffrin was in town for a celebration held on Sunday at Solaris Plaza in Vail Village, which brought out fans of all ages to help the U.S. Alpine ski team member celebrate her record-breaking 87 World Cup wins (now 88 wins), making her the winningest World Cup ski racer ever.

After the program, which featured past and present ski racing legends, Shiffrin did an autograph signing session with the kids, and a few adults, in the crowd who had her signing everything from hats and helmets to posters and even the jackets they were wearing.

These young racers look up to this Olympic gold medalist and World Cup champion, with dreams of maybe becoming “the next Mikaela.”

Shiffrin was one of those kids, learning to ski, then ski race and was so excited about the sport that she would even sleep in her pint-sized purple racing suit night after night. In a journal entry, a 9-year-old Shiffrin wrote that she wanted to be the best in the world. Her ski racing idol then, and still today, is the United States’ best male Alpine ski racer ever, Bode Miller.

“When he was still racing, I was afraid to be near him because he was the person who made me feel starstruck,” Shiffrin said.

Miller has six Olympic and five World Championship medals (including four golds), 33 World Cup wins, 79 podiums and two World Cup overall globes. On. Feb. 16, 2014, he became the oldest Olympic medalist in Alpine skiing by earning the bronze medal in super-G at age 36. He officially retired from the U.S. ski team in 2017.

“Bode Miller was my biggest inspiration growing up, I mean, he still is, he’s my number one,” Shiffrin said.

When asked if she’s ever spoken to Miller about how much of an influence he was on her now that she is further along in her career and he has retired from the sport, Shiffrin replied, “Oh, no, we have not talked about that specifically but I’ve said that he was my inspiration in about a billion interviews and then he’ll post something and then we’ll talk a bit, or we’ll see each other if he is out on the hill when I am training, he’ll come over and say ‘hi.’ But of all the people in the world, all the celebrities, Bode was that for me. So, I still feel that a bit when I see him or I get messages or anything, but yeah, he was my biggest inspiration.”

On March 11, 2023, when Mikaela broke Ingemar Stenmark’s record of 86 World Cup wins, Miller took to social media to congratulate the 28-year-old.

“It’s appropriate that at the same place she won her first Alpine World Cup, Mikaela ‘reset,’ as she puts it, the record for World Cup victories,” Miller wrote on Instagram. “There have been many who thought Stenmark’s record would never be broken … Watching you ski and knowing your heart and mind, it’s no surprise to me. Congratulations Mikaela!”

When asked about her role in inspiring others, Shiffrin was quick to point out that your idol does not have to be a world champion.

“I think the most beautiful thing is you can choose whoever you want to look up to, it could change as well through the course of your life, you should surround yourself with people and visuals that help you dream and be ambitious and be motivated and achieve what you want to achieve and it can be anybody. It doesn’t have to be someone who’s won 88 races,” Shiffrin said.

“The only way you get better is with a supportive group of people around you who help you stay grounded, help you do better, help you try harder, help you try in the right ways and help you do the things you are passionate about.”