About to be a household name: Mikaela Shiffrin | Bleader

About to be a household name: Mikaela Shiffrin

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Mikaela Shiffrin competing in Flachau, Austria earlier this month
  • Christophe Pallot/Agence Zoom/Gerry Images Europe
  • Mikaela Shiffrin competed in Flachau, Austria, earlier this month
Four years ago, almost to the day, my back went out and I spent two weeks in bed. Those happened to be the two weeks of the winter Olympics. I've been grateful to my subconscious ever since.

Now the Olympics come again, and America will soon embrace a new galaxy of young phenoms that, as I write this, it has yet to hear of. Heading the list of stars about to burst across the firmament is the skier Mikaela Shiffrin. A recent profile in the New York Times described Mikaela, a mere 18, as a "princess of precision . . . the next Lindsay Vonn . . . the Mozart of ski racing . . . the odds-on favorite to win the slalom."

I know the name already, for an interesting reason. Last October I wrote a column about Mikaela's sixth cousin, once removed, Marina Shifrin, who briefly became sensational in the world of journalism when she quit her job at an animated news-video house in Taipei by making a video she called "An Interpretive Dance For My Boss Set To Kanye West's Gone," and it went viral.

In the course of reporting that column I came across the family's Facebook page, ascertained that all Shifrins are related no matter how they spell their last name, discovered who a couple of Marina's relatives are, and concluded that if her 15 minutes seemed interesting enough I should wait until I got a load of Mikaela's.

Here's what I'm wondering: NBC will undoubtedly milk Mikaela Shiffrin for every ounce of heart-warming drama in her and a few ounces more they concoct out of thin air. But what about theme music? "Mikaela's Theme" has already been written, composed under another name by family member Lalo Schifrin. Is NBC on top of this?

UPDATE: Greg Livshitz, the family genealogist, has clarified a few more relationships for me. Mikaela and Lalo are second cousins three times removed, which means Lalo and Mikaela’s great-grandfather were second cousins. In addition, the same great-grandfather’s maternal first cousin was married to Harry Greenspan, the uncle of Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve Board. And Mikaela’s great grand uncle, A.B. Shiffrin, was a dramatist who wrote for the stage and for television in its early years.

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