While 18-year-old U.S. alpine skiing sensation Mikaela Shiffrin is off traversing the slopes of some destination along the World Cup tour, her older brother Taylor Shiffrin is back in the pair’s home state of Colorado, training as well. He also is doing a little accounting and physics homework on the side — and keeping tabs on his little sis.
Taylor, a 21-year-old University of Denver sophomore and a member of the alpine squad on the Pioneers ski team, stays in touch with his superstar sibling — who soon will be off to Sochi, Russia, for the Winter Olympics — almost every day, be it through Facebook, calls and texts or funny videos on YouTube.
“I like to tease her, rib her, basically treat her like any normal older brother would treat a younger sister, to remind her, ‘Yeah, you’re still my baby sister, I’m still going to do this stuff to you, and we’re still going to have fun doing it,’” says Taylor, who was named DU men’s alpine most valuable freshman last season. “I give her plenty of grief and let her know that, ‘Yep, you haven’t ever beaten me yet.’ Although in recent years, it has become quite challenging to keep that true. Actually, the last time we even trained together was a year ago. So I’ve got a little safety net.”
Mikaela, the 2013 slalom world champion and a five-time World Cup race winner who already draws comparisons to alpine great Lindsey Vonn, often gets questions about the role her parents played in her development. But, she says, it’s Taylor who gets the most credit for helping keep her grounded.
“He has always been really supportive,” Mikaela says. “He’s the one who reminds me that I’m a teenager. We’re really close. He’s just flourishing in college, and I could see myself — without the ski racing — that’s where I’d be. The world is open to him, and it’s really cool to see.”
At the same time, Taylor, couldn’t be prouder of Mikaela’s success. Though it’s unlikely he’ll travel to Sochi to watch her in person, due to scheduling conflicts with his own ski season and a hefty course load, he has high hopes for her.
“It’s like trying to predict the stock market,” says Taylor, a double major in mechanical engineering and accounting. “I’m hesitant to say she could be the best, but obviously she has the potential to be that. I certainly hope that she reaches that, but it’s all a matter of what comes out in the wash to see how everything works out.”