Mikaela Shiffrin, covered in sweat from working out, gave a big hug to Missy Franklin when they met for the first time in the summer of 2016.
“The moment I met Miki,” Franklin said, “I knew I had found a friend for life.”
Ever since the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Shiffrin had heard that she reminded people of Franklin. Both are Colorado natives with bubbly personalities who won Olympic gold medals before turning 19. But since their offseasons don’t overlap, they were never in the same place at the same time.
The two Olympians finally met in person in August 2016. After swimming at the 2016 Summer Games, Franklin booked a vacation to Vail, Colo. to unwind with her family. A mutual friend, NBC Sports executive Brett Goodman, orchestrated the meeting after reminding Franklin that Shiffrin lives and skis in Vail.
Franklin and Shiffrin compared their training schedules. Shiffrin, who believed that she had long days when she wakes up at 7 a.m., learned that Franklin regularly wakes up at 4 a.m. Franklin thought she traveled a lot for swimming until she heard about Shiffrin’s itinerary for the World Cup season.
They swapped stories about staying in the Olympic Village, as well as about walking on red carpets.
“I felt like we were laughing all night,” Shiffrin said. “She will make fun of herself and not take anything too seriously. That is the way I am as well.”
The night ended early, since they are both elite athletes. At about 9:00 p.m., Franklin decided it was time to go back to her hotel room.
“I was psyched because finally I wasn’t the one needing to go to bed first,” Shiffrin said.
They now talk regularly on the phone and via social media.
“I found a friend and a person that is cut from the exact same cloth as I am,” Franklin said. “I know our friendship and time together will only grow.”
Shiffrin is confident that their next interaction will not take place in a swimming pool.
“I would probably drown,” Shiffrin said, laughing. “I would get a treadmill and do my cardio while she is in the pool.”