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(KRASNAYA POLYANA, RUSSIA - JANUARY 21: Mikaela Shiffrin, of Eagle-Vail, Colo., talks with reporters after winning the women's slalom competition at Rosa Khutor Alpine Center during the 2014 Sochi Olympics Friday February 21, 2014. Shiffrin won the gold medal with a total time of 1:44.54. (Photo by Chris Detrick/The Salt Lake Tribune) )
Olympics: Skiing prodigy Mikaela Shiffrin dreams big
First Published Feb 22 2014 08:28 am • Last Updated Feb 25 2014 04:47 pm

Sochi, Russia • They’re already looking to Colorado teen Mikaela Shiffrin as America’s next big Winter Olympian.

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Half a day after she became the youngest woman to win a slalom gold medal, some suggested the Sochi Games will launch Shiffrin into the celebrity stratosphere populated by such luminaries as Apolo Ohno and Lindsey Vonn.

Shiffrin, 18, perhaps inadvertently fed the hype machine Saturday, saying she wants five gold medals at the Pyeongchang Games in 2018 in South Korea.

"Sorry, I just admitted that to you all," she said.

Put the statement into context, however, and it’s just Shiffrin dreaming large.

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"I want to branch out but I don’t want to do it too soon," she said of her future. "I have strength to gain over the next two summers. I don’t want to push myself too far, too fast, and definitely don’t get greedy."

Shiffrin has all the markings of a big-time Olympic star. She already is being compared to another Colorado kid -- swimmer Missy Franklin, who is a Cal freshman.

The two recently talked via Twitter. The accomplished Franklin offered support to Shiffrin in her Olympic debut.

"They were saying I am the Missy Franklin on skis," Shiffrin said. "That’s a tough thing to live up to. She just went out and did it. I didn’t know if I can really do that."

She knew. Trust us, she knew.

Shiffrin, of Vail, Colo., took a commanding lead halfway through the two-run slalom, then recovered from a mistake on the second run to win the gold medal over idol Marlies Schild of Austria. Another Austrian, Kathrin Zettel, won the bronze.

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