Dominant Mikaela Shiffrin beats rivals to four-legged prize

Mikaela Shiffrin makes friends with her prize Rudolph the reindeer after winning the World Cup slalom in Levi.

Story highlights

  • Mikaela Shiffrin wins season opening slalom in World Cup
  • Beats Maria Hoefl-Riesch and Tina Maze in Levi, Finland
  • U.S. teenage star presented with a reindeer as a prize
  • Names it Rudolph after her favorite song as a young child

U.S. ski star Mikaela Shiffrin underlined her status as the best slalom racer on the World Cup circuit in Finland Saturday then landed the prize of her childhood dreams -- a reindeer!

Teenager Shiffrin was excited to relegate Maria Hoefl-Riesch and Tina Maze into the minor places, but absolutely thrilled to get an early Christmas present, whom she quickly named Rudolph.

"Who wouldn't want to get a reindeer? I remember being five years old and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was my favorite song," she told the official World Cup skiing website.

"I think we will be getting along. I hope that when he get's older and trained I can go for a ride on a sledge with him," added Shiffrin.

She won't be taking the reindeer with her on her travels, but will meet Rudolph again when she returns to the Finnish ski resort of Levi for further races.

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With Sochi 2014 looming, Shiffrin's performance laid down an early marker and reigning Olympic champion Hoefl-Riesch from Germany was 1.06 seconds behind after two runs, with Slovenia's Maze 1.61 seconds slower.

Maze was disappointed to be so far back and to miss out on a prize she also coveted. "I already was making room for a reindeer back home, but unfortunately it was not my turn to win it," she said with a smile.

Fellow skiing superstar Lindsey Vonn of the United States also claimed a four-legged prize after winning a race in Val d'Isere in France, opting for a cow rather than the prize money.

A cow was also presented to Roger Federer by grateful organizers when he returned to play the Swiss Open in Gstaad this year.

When he took part in the same event in 2003 after taking his first Wimbledon title he was also given a cow.

For Shiffrin, the reindeer was the icing on the cake after a superb performance, keeping the red World Cup leaders' bib she earned last season.

"There's definitely some relief there...one of my goals is to keep my slalom standings, and it's nice to know I'm not that far off," she said before going off to place a picture of herself with the reindeer on her Facebook page.