Mikaela Shiffrin, 18 and Frenchman Alexis Pinturault, 21 were honored as the 2013 Longines Rising Stars signifying the best young skiers on the World Cup tour (Getty Images/Agence Zoom - Alain Grosclaude)
LENZERHEIDE, Switzerland (March 15) - Less than 24 hours before kicking out of the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup Finals start gate for the slalom battle of the ages, Mikaela Shiffrin (Eagle-Vail, CO) was honored in Lenzerheide as the Longines Rising Star, signifying the top young female racer of 2013. Shiffrin will enter Saturday's race just seven points behind overall, super G and giant slalom title winner Tina Maze of Slovenia for a winner-take-all matchup for the season-long slalom crown. The 18-year-old athlete has three slalom wins this season and is the World Championships gold medaslist in the discipline. Frenchman Alexis Pinturault, 21, captured the men's Rising Star honor.
World Cup slalom title challenger Mikaela Shiffrin (Eagle-Vail, CO), 18, and 21-year-old Frenchman Alexis Pinturault were honored as the 2013 Longines Rising Stars.
The award, presented by the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup timing partner, signifies the top young skiers of the season (woman under 21, male under 23).
The World Championships slalom gold medalist, she has captured three World Cup wins this season and two other slalom podiums.
Shiffrin won the USOC Athlete of the Month award for both January and February. In addition, she was voted World Cup Rookie of the Year by her peers following the 2012 season.
She will compete against World Cup overall winner Tina Maze on Saturday in a winner-take-all matchup for the 2013 slalom title.
The race will stream live on UniversalSports.com with television broadcast on the network at 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. ET.
Universal Sports will also stream and broadcast the men's giant slalom Saturday featuring World Champ Ted Ligety (Park City, UT), who has already clinched the season-long title.
QUOTES Mikaela Shiffrin One of my goals from the very start of my ski racing career was to be the youngest to win World Cups and make a mark as a young athlete. It's really cool that Longines has this award dedicated to young athletes and success. It's cool to push young athletes to do their very best and this helps do that because we're not always going to be competing for an overall globe or titles - it's great to know that young athletes have something special of their own to shoot for.
I can't really pick a top highlight this season. I'd tend to say Are [Sweden] because it was my first win and the first time I was able to say 'OK, I can do this.' But then the next win came in Zagreb and that was special in it's own way and then there was Flachau and that was such a fight. Each of those wins were really special, but the World Championships were incredible. So I guess i'd have to pick the gold medal as my highlight, but hopefullly I add to those highlights tomorrow.
I keep saying Saturday's race is going to be the battle of the ages, but it's really not about me versus Tina [Maze]. It's about me against the clock and against every other racer in the field. There are such a strong group of slalom skiers in this race and I'm thinking about how I have to be fast against all of them. Of course my goal is to win, I want to take the slalom title. But if Tina wins, I'll still be so happy. This has been such a special season already and I feel so fortunate to be in a position where I'm competing against someone like Tina, who has won in all disciplines this year.