CARRABASSETT VALLEY — Like so many other sports and hobbies, skiing tends to run in the family.

The love of the slopes is handed down from generation to generation. For most skiing families, the kids are put on skis the moment they learn to walk.

The U.S. Alpine Championships have displayed just that, as brothers and sisters have come to Sugarloaf, not to compete against one another as a form of sibling rivalry, but battle the rest of the field. 

Mikaela Shiffrin no longer needs introduction. The Olympic gold medalist and World Championship slalom skier has become a household name since bursting onto the scene as a 16 year old prodigy. But the first Shiffrin to compete at Sugarloaf this week wasn’t Mikaela, but her older brother ,Taylor. 

Taylor Shiffrin, a junior at the University of Denver, may not be as well known, but he doesn’t feel the pressure to match Mikaela win for win. 

“As we do well, we each motivate each other and it inspires us,” Taylor Shiffrin said. “It’s a positive feeding off of each other type of relationship.” 

The slalom and giant slalom skier returned to Sugarloaf on Friday for the first time since his first FIS race on Feb. 18, 2007. That day, he finished 31st in the slalom, and 66th in the giant slalom the next day. On Friday, Taylor fared better in the giant slalom, placing 30th.

While Taylor’s skiing resume isn’t as decorated as Mikaela’s, he’s had many quality showings on the slopes. Taylor has three wins, 20 podiums and 61 top-10 finishes in his eight-year career. 

Despite being three years older, Taylor isn’t afraid to take advice from his younger sister. 

“It bounces back and forth,” Taylor Shiffrin said. “I give her pointers … She gives me more pointers than I give her.” 

Like Mikaela, Taylor’s skiing career has taken him across the globe. Outside the United States, he’s skied in Canada, Spain, Italy, New Zealand, Slovenia and Japan.

Taylor and Mikaela have been skiing for as long as they can remember and Taylor’s best memory of the sport involves his younger sister, even if it doesn’t put her in the best of light. 

“Powder skiing with my sister when I was about nine years old,” Taylor Shiffrin said. “She was six or seven at the time. She fell and disappeared into like four feet of snow. Couldn’t find her. We pull her out and she’s just bawling and then she starts laughing. That was a fun memory.” 

The Shiffrins never competed together head to head in the same race, but brothers and Carrabassett Valley Academy alumni Sam and Ben Morse have. On Friday, they shared the same mountain in a competitive setting for the second-to-last time. The Morse brothers will compete together in the slalom on Sunday and then Ben will call it a career. 

Ben finished his final giant slalom race in 43rd, while his brother took 31st. 

“It’s really fun being up here,” Ben Morse said. “Sam, he’s having a great year. These are the last two races of my career, so I just had a couple bobbles up there but I wanted to finish just to get a second run and really enjoying the Sugarloaf crowd.” 

As Sam’s career is on the upswing, Ben’s is on its final note. His eight-year career will end where it began, at Sugarloaf. At the start of Ben’s career, Sam was among the crowd. Now, he’s right there along with him on the mountain. 

“Skiing with my brother has been a lot of fun over the years,” Sam Morse said. “Definitely have had a good relationship. We’re four years apart so it’s not like super competitive against each other, more helping each other out. It’s really nice to have a teammate like that through all of this.” 

Ben said his favorite skiing moment came in Aspen, Colo., during the 2009 National Junior Championships. He posted first-place finishes in the downhill and slalom and finished fifth in the super-G. It was the first time he won consecutive races. He did it again in Le Relais, Quebec, in 2013. 

For everything Ben has taught his younger brother throughout his career, it’s the lead-up to an event where Sam has learned the most. 

“Definitely some of the mental preparation,” Sam Morse said. “That’s the toughest part of the sport I think. Just coming into race day with a good attitude. He’s definitely taught me a lot of skills there.” 

That mental preparation helped land Sam the Golden Ski Award symbolizing the top junior skier in the East, as well as a spot with the U.S. Ski Team in 2014. Sam had seven victories in 2014 and became the top downhill skier in his age group. 

Ben, who will be watching his brother at the finish line after this week, believes the sky is the limit for Sam. 

“He’s definitely on his way to some big results,” Ben Morse said. “Great speed skier and really looking for him to punch it in there next year.” 


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