Tamara McKinney 9: Mikaela Shiffrin 7

tamara mckinney ski race racer val disere france time magazine 1984 olympicsTamara McKinney in Time magazine, January 30, 1984, photo by Yarbrough-Team Russell.

tamara mckinney ski race aspen winternational colorado World Cup giant slalom action at the Aspen Winternational.

tamara mckinney ski race racer vail giant slalom rossignol descenteMarch 12, 1983 Press Photo:  VAIL, COLO:  USA’s Tamara McKinney takes a gate during the first run of Women’s World Cup Giant Slalom.  McKinney had the second best time of 1:11:59, only 0.01 second behind teammate Cindy Nelson.  McKinney is attempting to become the first American woman to win the overall World Cup Championship.  UPI jm/Pat Benic

Tamara’s signature bunny hat was made by her sister who sells specialty knit goods through her Kentucky-based company, Ouisha.

tamara mckinney us ski team athlete olympics 1984Training for the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia.  ABC press photo.

With Mikaela Shiffrin’s win at Flachau yesterday, she has racked up seven World Cup slalom wins – quickly gaining on Tamara McKinney’s nine victories, the record for any American woman in slalom.

Tamara McKinney was my first ski hero.  Her small stature but aggressive style coupled with her girl-next-door image and trusty Rossignol skis offered a strong, female role model in the sport.  Her racing accomplishments include being the first American woman to win the World Cup overall title, two Giant Slalom titles, a Slalom title, multiple World Championship medals and a long list of career wins and podiums.  She is a legend without question.

My husband and I have been devout followers of Mikaela Shiffrin — her stunning talent and rapid ascent — since we watched her win the slalom at the 2010 J-III Junior Olympics when she was 15.  We had heard the hype but it wasn’t until we witnessed her runs that we truly grasped what this young girl could mean to the world of ski racing.  Amazed by her performance, I began referring to her as “Magic Girl”.  I was thrilled to be present to watch her win the slalom title at the World Championships in Schladming, Austria last winter.

So, with that, it is bittersweet for me to watch Mikaela gain on Tamara’s slalom record in record time!

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