Mikaela Shiffrin's Vt. High School Pulling for Another Gold Medal Win

As U.S. skiing star Mikaela Shiffrin continues making headlines in Pyeongchang, students at her former high school in Vermont are paying close attention.

Shiffrin announced she would not compete in the downhill event at the Winter Olympics, to save her focus and energy for the alpine combined race later this week.

Shiffrin already won gold in Korea in the giant slalom, but finished fourth — just outside of medal contention — in her specialty, slalom.

"I'm just expecting her to throw it down, because she always puts on a show for everyone," said Claire Walters, a first-year student at Burke Mountain Academy in East Burke.

Shiffrin, who also won Olympic gold in Sochi in 2014, developed her racing skills at the independent school in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom, where young racers come for both academics and serious ski training.

Shiffrin graduated from BMA in 2013. Several current students said they are closely tracking Shiffrin as her next Olympic race approaches.

"There's a lot of pressure on her," observed BMA senior Sarah Rowe. "Watching the interviews, it sounds like she's getting really nervous for the starts, which is something everyone can relate to, and I think she’s doing an amazing job handling it."

"She could go in, she could blow it away," BMA post-grad athlete Stephanie Profitt said of the upcoming alpine combined event. "We're excited to see how she comes back from the slalom."

Longtime Burke Mountain Academy ski coach Steve Berlack remembers the athlete's drive was second to none.

"She didn't cut any corners," Berlack said of Shiffrin.

Asked about the chances of seeing the BMA alumna on an Olympic medal podium again, Berlack answered, "Absolutely. She's my choice for alpine combined. She's a heck of a downhill skier and her slalom skiing is the best."

Willy Booker, the head of school at Burke Mountain Academy, said Shiffrin is an inspiration, whether or not today's students will ever reach the Olympic stage.

"We push the kids really hard to push themselves to see how far that they can go," Booker said. "That's, of course, in sport, but it's a metaphor for life, as well."

In addition to Shiffrin, Burke Mountain Academy alums Nolan Kasper, Tommy Biesemeyer, Liz Stephen and Ida Sargent are also representing their alma mater at the Winter Olympics on Team USA.

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