Posted at: 02/21/2014 6:36 PM
Updated at: 02/21/2014 6:40 PM
By: Steve Flamisch
LANESBOROUGH – When 18 year-old Mikaela Shiffrin put on her skis Friday morning, she had a chance to become the youngest-ever Olympic gold medalist in women’s slalom.
Shiffrin lives in Colorado, but she has family in Albany and Berkshire Counties. They gathered at her grandmother’s house in Lanesborough to watch the competition on NBC’s live webcast.
The event will air on NewsChannel 13 in prime time Friday during NBC’s Olympics coverage. Please do not read any further if you do not wish to know the result in advance.
The family watched Shiffrin ski to first place in her initial run at about 7:45 a.m. ET. They had to wait four hours for the final run.
Her loved ones – hands wringing, feet tapping – felt both excited and nervous as they passed the time. They admitted to a bit of superstition, too.
"We're all sitting in the same seating arrangement that we had this morning for the first run, so we can make sure that we don't change anything," her aunt, Annie Herrick said.
When Shiffrin’s turn finally came just after noon, the family joined hands. Then, as Shiffrin started down the slope, the webcast abruptly stopped working. The family screeched.
But the video re-buffered just in time for them to see Shiffrin capture the gold medal. They jumped out of their seats, screaming and embracing with unbridled joy.
"We could not be more excited," Herrick said, overcome with emotion. "This is unbelievable. I'm sorry. I have to, but... I mean, I can't even express how excited we all are."
Shiffrin’s grandmother, Pauline Condron, said she was thrilled to share the experience with her loved ones – just a few days after suffering a broken vertebra in her back.
"In my life -- I'm 92 -- I was able to see my granddaughter on TV, and see her really win and do a great job," Condron said. "So I'm very happy."
Shiffrin’s uncle, Albany County Court Judge Stephen Herrick, took time off from the bench to ensure he wouldn’t miss a second of his niece’s performance.
"She's such a wonderful kid," Herrick said. "She's got all the talent in the world. She is an unspoiled, wonderful kid who comes and mows nana's lawn."
Shiffrin’s parents called from Sochi a few minutes after their daughter’s history-making, gold medal performance. Their voices trembled with excitement.
Later, the family enjoyed a celebratory toast. They are expecting Shiffrin to pay a visit to Berkshire County sometime next month. She will receive a hero’s welcome.
To watch the raw video of the family reacting to Shiffrin’s gold medal performance, visit: http://www.nbcolympics.com/wnyt/video/shiffrin%E2%80%99s-family-watches-run-gold