Olympian Mikaela Shiffrin returns to Vail

KUSA - It has been thirty days of adventure, exhaustion, and all kinds of new experiences. Mikaela Shiffrin is back in Colorado for the first time since becoming Olympic champion.

"The title is something. I'm never going to get used to but the act of going and getting that medal, and winning that race wasn't what I expected but what I set out to do," the gold medalist said.

"I feel really lucky and grateful and glad for my team and everything that went into accomplishing that. It was a goal," she added.

Shiffrin left Sochi on a three a.m. flight the morning after receiving her gold medal, and headed straight to the Big Apple for an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

She carries her prized possession in a white glove tucked in her backpack.

"We got to New York sometime in the afternoon," she said. "I was so nervous and I was so tired."

She says it didn't feel real.

"I was like this is really cool because you all are really famous and I feel really tiny," Shiffrin said.

The next day included a trip to Vogue magazine.

"I got to see the shoe closet," she said. "That was incredible."

Then it was off to unveil the Wheaties box with her picture on it.

"You'll be pouring cereal out of me," she laughed.

The following day was a flight back to Europe, where Mikaela Shiffrin finished the World Cup season by defending her title in the slalom. It was a few days before her 19th birthday.

The day before the Olympic races in Sochi, her mom Eileen told 9NEWS reporter Cheryl Preheim she had a feeling their lives were about to change. They have. "It is a little bit of a change already, and I think and it's just starting," Shiffrin said.

At her World Cup events following the Winter Games, the lines of fans were far bigger than she was used to.

"A lot of people who wanted pictures and autographs but I was thinking, 'I'm not that cool' but it was so exciting to see their enthusiasm," she said.

Shiffrin already had a big fan following in Europe. She wants to make skiing a more high profile sport in the Untied States.

"I am a little bit torn because I want skiing to be bigger in the US but I also want to have that privacy that I always get when I come home to go to the grocery store and go on an airplane," she said.

For Shiffrin, it is her love for the sport that is most important.

"I'm here doing this sport and it's my passion so I would rather set up a future for other aspiring ski racers than hold onto my little small town privacy feel," she said. "But I'm hoping to balance it."

Shiffrin is home but it does not mean she is off skies and taking time to relax.

"I'm doing six days of training to cap off the season," she said.

She said next season starts now. "I better get going," she laughed.

The teenager who became the youngest skier to ever win an Olympic Gold in Slalom says this experience gives her confidence and excitement heading into upcoming seasons.

It is something she and her coach have talked about.

"He told me now I don't have to wait for 4 more years and I don't have to have the pressure to try and get an Olympic medal," she said.

Now it is just about how many more she will earn for Team USA.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)


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