Olympian’s Rochester relative shares hopes and worries
Updated: Monday, February 10 2014, 07:11 AM EST
Pittsford, N.Y. -- Mikaela Shiffrin, 18, is considered to a be a U.S. gold medal contender in the slalom skiing competitions at the Sochi Winter Olympics.
“We knew in our hearts Mikaela was going to be headed there,” said Caroline Ryan, Shiffrin's aunt, who lives in Pittsford. “She’s really, really excited about the games; she’s pumped.”
Ryan was originally going to make the trip to Sochi to watch her niece, but all the talk about heightened security concerns caused her to think twice.
“I decided not to go,” Ryan said, adding that other factors also played a role in her decision. “I’m just happy to be watching it from here.”
Many have been concerned about recent terrorist threats made in Sochi during the games.
The deadly bombing at a train station in Volgograd, Russia in late December added to those fears, and recent warnings from the Department of Homeland Security have also caused many to express concern.
Ryan said that she’s spoken with Shiffrin on Skype and although the gold-medal hopeful is not yet in Sochi, she's fully focused on the games and not worried about security.
Instead of watching the games in Sochi, Ryan will be driving to Massachusetts to meet up with other family members to watch Shiffrin compete.
Shiffrin, who grew up in Colorado, has recently been the talk of high expectations ever since she qualified for the U.S. team, even landing on the cover of Sports Illustrated, which called the 18-year old “The Next Lindsey Vonn.”
Due to a knee injury, Vonn will not be making the trip to Sochi, something that saddened Shiffrin.
“Lindsey is one of her idols,” Shiffrin’s aunt said. “She’s another hard-working athlete, and Lindsey was disappointed when she heard the news.”
Shiffrin was born and raised in Vail, Colo., and graduated from the Burke Mountain Ski Academy in Vermont before qualifying for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.