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Mikaela Shiffrin graces cover of SI’s Olympic Preview issue, hailed as ‘The Next Lindsey Vonn’ (photo)

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With Linsey Vonn prevented from competing in the Winter Olympics due to injury, US women’s downhill has a new face, and it is the face of a teenaged Wunderkind.

Her name is Mikaela Shiffrin, an 18-year-old budding superstar out of Vail, Colo.

But don’t let her young age or assumed inexperience fool you. Shiffrin heads to Sochi as the reigning world champion and World Cup title-holder in slalom and is a perceived favorite to medal in the giant slalom as well.

Shiffrin graces one of four Olympic Preview covers Sports Illustrated has released, along with figure skater Gracie Gold, downhill legend Bode Miller and snowboarders Arielle Gold and Jamie Anderson landing the other three covers.

And if the thought of being the face of the US Women’s Olympic Ski Team has filled her with dread due to the daunting task of replacing Lindsey Vonn, think again.

“I’m going to Sochi with such a positive feeling,” she said in an interview with USA Today. “I’m coming off a pretty good season. All I know is positive. I’m excited to go and race my heart out and see if I can go for the gold.

“Of course, it’s a really big bummer that Lindsey is not going to be there. We’re all going to really miss her a lot. But I’m also really excited. I’m not really seeing pressure as a negative.”

[SI.com]

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