The sports king of the hill in our state is a woman.
‘Tis a privilege to live in Colorado during this golden age of sports, with the Avalanche reigning alongside the DU Pioneers as hockey champions, while Nuggets center Nikola Jokic infuriates basketball cognoscenti nationwide by tightening his grip on a third-straight award as the NBA’s most valuable player.
But with all due respect, guys, skier Mikaela Shiffrin has you all beat.
Shiffrin, born in Vail the same year the Avs moved to Colorado, has locked up her fifth overall World Cup championship in Norway.
“That’s really amazing. That (overall title) was like the big, big goal for me this season,” Shiffrin told reporters on the hill Saturday, after a fifth-place finish in the downhill that gave her an incredible and insurmountable 1,747-986 lead over Lara Gut-Behrami of Switzerland in the overall standings.
“I had such a big focus on it that I was even talking about it in interviews at the beginning of the season. Normally I don’t talk about it so much, because it takes a long time to figure out if you can do it.”
In a state blessed with purple mountain majesties and Hall of Fame athletes galore, Shiffrin is the best who has ever competed for the pride and glory of Colorado.
There’s no debate that John Elway, who won three Super Bowl trophies as a quarterback or front-office executive with the Broncos, will forever own the heart of this state.
But even Elway’s impressive collection of championship hardware is no match for Shiffrin, whose 85 victories in racing disciplines as varied as the slalom and downhill on the World Cup circuit have left her only one W shy of the all-time record of 86 by Ingemar Stenmark of Sweden.
“She will be the first to reach 100 victories,” Stenmark recently told The Associated Press.
From Nova Scotia to Serbia to the Vail valley, Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, Jokic and Shiffrin were all born within seven months of each other in 1995. With all at the top of their games and in their athletic prime, there has never been a better time for a Colorado sports fan to be alive.
Although Shiffrin has been among the top 10 female skiers in the world for more than a decade since claiming the slalom globe as the season champ when only 17 years old in 2013, her climb to become the best skier in history is a comeback story. After Jeff Shiffrin, her father and confidante, died at age 65 from a head injury suffered during a fall at the family’s Colorado home in February 2020, Mikaela bravely shared the enduring emotional pain and the struggle to renew her athletic purpose with fans.
In a chauvinistic sports world, Colorado has long been a shining example of strong women who refuse to sit on the sideline or take a back seat to any man.
After growing up in Texas and earning acclaim as a gold medalist at the 1932 Olympics, Babe Didrikson Zaharias became a pro golfer, settled in Denver and helped women form a golf league of their own as a founding member of the LPGA in 1950. From Missy Franklin (swimming) to Lindsey Horan (soccer), Becky Hammon (basketball) and Adeline Gray (wrestling), it’s hard to find any sport where a female athlete with Colorado ties hasn’t shined on the world stage.
Although we’re often in a hurry to declare the latest as the greatest, a skier born in Colorado is the GOAT.
In the history of our fair state, the sports king of the hill is a woman.
All hail Mikaela Shiffrin.