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Mikaela Shiffrin homecoming at Vail Mountain

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Fresh snow wasn't the only reason to ski Vail on Friday, March 28. Those five inches that fell overnight wasn't the only reason to ski Vail this weekend. Once your day on the mountain winds down, you could catch a glimpse, or better yet meet, Mikaela Shiffrin, the skiing superstar from Eagle-Vail who won gold in the women's slalom race at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Residents and guests of the Vail Valley had the opportunity to welcome home Shiffrin, the Olympic champion in women's slalom in Sochi, on Friday, March 28, when the Vail Valley Foundation, the Town of Vail and Vail Resorts hosted the “Gold Rush” celebration. The free event was held at the newly-renamed Championships Plaza, by Solaris, in the heart of Vail Village.

“We are truly honored to say that the Vail Valley is home to this great international champion,” explained Ceil Folz, president of the Vail Valley Foundation and head of the 2015 World Championships Organizing Committee. “We could not ask for a better ambassador to inspire the next generation of skiers in our community and our country.”

Shiffrin, 19, made her Olympic debut in the Giant Slalom race on Feb. 17 where she took fifth. On Feb. 21, she became the youngest Slalom champion in Olympic alpine skiing history when she finished 0.53 seconds ahead of Austria's Marlies Schild. But the Olympics weren't the only place Shiffrin showed off her Slalom skills this winter. On March 15, she recorded her fifth World Cup Slalom victory of the season in Lenzerheide, Switzerland. The win helped her grab her second consecutive World Cup Slalom title.

“We are obviously extremely proud of her accomplishments and look forward to even greater things to come, especially as we now look ahead to the 2015 World Championships in Vail and Beaver Creek," Folz said.

The Gold Rush welcome home event also included free music, autograph opportunities and the chance to be part of a community photo featuring Shiffrin.

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