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Mikaela Shiffrin says ‘next Lindsey Vonn’ talk unfair to Vonn

Dec 3, 2013, 1:58 PM EDT

Mikaela Shiffrin Getty Images

Showers of praise keep raining on U.S. skier Mikaela Shiffrin, but perhaps comparisons to Lindsey Vonn are not the way to go.

“When they say I’m the next Lindsey Vonn, they are shooing her out the door, and I don’t think that’s fair,” Shiffrin told TODAY.com. “Imagine being her, reading that someone is the next Lindsey Vonn — it’s like saying, ‘Get out of the way, there’s no room for two Lindsey Vonns.’”

Shiffrin, of Vail, Colo., made her first World Cup giant slalom podium in nearby Beaver Creek on Sunday. She’s just starting to get her feet wet in the giant slalom after ascending to the top in slalom last year. Shiffrin won the World Championship in the slalom and led the World Cup standings in the event.

Shiffrin has said she wants to be an all-around skier contending for the overall World Cup title, which Vonn has won four times. It’s well known that Shiffrin and Vonn are different types of skiers — Shiffrin competing in (for now) only technical events, Vonn focusing on speed races.

Vonn is expected to train in Lake Louise, Alberta, this week ahead of World Cup speed races there beginning Friday. The Olympic downhill champion has said she hopes to race at a course nicknamed “Lake Lindsey” for her overwhelming success there over the years.

Shiffrin’s next race is expected to be a giant slalom in St. Moritz, Switzerland, on Dec. 15, if she sticks with her plan of racing only giant slalom and slalom this season.

“[Vonn has] been one of my greatest idols for really long time, and it’s even cooler that she’s one of my teammates,” Shffrin told TODAY.com. “I appreciate who she is and what she’s done for the sport. But she’s not done — she’s not even really close to done. Let her have her success and let me have my own — just call me Mikaela Shiffrin.”

Shiffrin’s admiration of Vonn included getting tongue-tied when Vonn introduced herself at a training session a few days before a race at Spindleruv Mlyn, Czech Republic, in March 2011.

“I was awkward and she must have felt like, ‘Who the heck is this girl?,”‘ Shiffrin told the Denver Post. “But it was really cool. I was like, ‘I just met my hero, oh, my gosh.’

“She said: ‘You can ask me whatever you need. I remember my first time in a World Cup, it was pretty dumbfounding, so if you have any questions, ask me.’ Of course I didn’t. I didn’t want to get in her way, but just the gesture — it sounded like she genuinely meant it.”

Vonn, who is 11 years older than Shiffrin, has said they’ve painted their nails together.

In January 2012, Vonn praised Shiffrin in a blog for the Denver Post.

“She’s a huge talent and she’s got a good head on her shoulders,” Vonn wrote. “To have success at that age, you need the right people around you when you’re growing up, you have to have talent and you need everything to fall into place at the right time.”

Lindsey Vonn delays surgery in hopes of skiing at Sochi Olympics

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