Who Is Mikaela Shiffrin? New Details About The First Olympic Skiier To Earn More Than $1M In Prize Money

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Who Is Mikaela Shiffrin? New Details About The First Olympic Skiier To Earn More Than $1M In Prize Money

While there are plenty of athletes that continue to impress us with their athletic ability and skills, there’s one in particular you should watch out for: Mikaela Shiffrin. Who is Mikaela Shiffrin, anyway?

At just 24 years old, she’s already won two Olympic gold medals and the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup title. In addition, she’s the youngest slalom champion in the history of Olympic alpine skiing. Shiffrin is the first and only athlete to win all six FIS Alpine Ski World Cup disciplines.

Not only has she accomplished so much in so little time, but she’s won 60 World Cup races total, and in the 2019 season, she became the first athlete to win 17 World Cup races in one season, breaking the previous record. With the recent retirement of Lindsey Vonn, Shiffrin already has 38 more wins than Vonn had at Shiffrin’s age. To say she’s incredibly talented is an understatement.

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But she’s catapulted into the spotlight for another reason, and it all has to do with the ever-present pay gap between men and women.

According to the Pew Research Center, though the pay gap has narrowed since 1980, women only earned 85 percent of what men made in 2018: “Based on this estimate, it would take an extra 39 days of work for women to earn what men did in 2018. By comparison, the Census Bureau found that, in 2017, full-time, year-round working women earned 80 percent of what their male counterparts earned.”

Shiffrin has made 1.6 times (!) as much prize money as Marcel Hirscher, considered to be the best alpine skier in history, in this season alone. But in her career field, there is a policy that allocates equal prize money to both men and women. And Shiffrin is grateful, saying, “I’m very proud to be part of a sport where there is no gender pay gap.”

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But is there a reason why Shiffrin has out-earned the men in her sport? “I think the reason I have out-earned the men is because there are no men that are skiing in all events. So by skiing in every discipline, I have that many more opportunities to win more money,” she admitted. 

For the past 15 years, alpine skiing’s World Cup has offered equal prize money to both sexes. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for other sports, like women’s soccer.

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Earlier this month, the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team sued the U.S. Soccer Federation for gender discrimination and unequal pay. The women’s team has played and won more games than the men’s team — winning the World Cup three times and being four-time Olympic champions, while the men’s team has never won either tournament.

According to the complaint, “A comparison of the WNT and MNT pay shows that if each team played 20 friendlies in a year and each team won all twenty friendlies, female WNT players would earn a maximum of $99,000 or $4,950 per game, while similarly situated male MNT players would earn an average of $263,320 or $13,166 per game against the various levels of competition they would face.”

So, while Shiffrin’s case is a little different, as most of her earnings come from sponsorships, she’s still on her way to becoming the “most marketable skier in the world.” And in the meantime, the sports world can focus a little more on the gender discrimination currently at play.

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Samantha Maffucci is an editor for YourTango who focuses on writing trending news and entertainment pieces. In her free time, you can find her obsessing about cats, wine, and all things Vanderpump Rules.