Beating the rain, a record-setting Killington World Cup reigns

A record-breaking crowd of 21,000 fans watched the opening of the women’s only US stop on the 2022 World Cup ski racing circuit at Killington Resort on Saturday. Dustin Sitloff/US Ski Team photo via Killington Resort

KILLINGTON — Olympic gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin, a school in Vermont, grabbed an NBC microphone over the weekend to give a shout-out to a record-setting World Cup ski racing crowd.

“You could hear a roar, you could feel the rumble,” he told a crowd of 21,000 at Killington Resort. “Here they always bring energy.”

The women’s international circuit’s only U.S. stop also came with a nail-biting tale of wild weather and, as a result, disappointment for Shiffrin, who lost her bid for a sixth straight domestic slalom title.

Huge banners in the packed Killington grandstands promised “more winter” and “more snow.” Even so, Sunday morning’s rising temperatures and afternoon rain confirmed the resort’s three-pronged plug’s last words: “More adventure.”

Shiffrin was fastest in the first round of the cup-keeping slalom. But as she waited to be the last skier on the second run, the course softened enough to drop her pace by 0.59 of a second, dropping her to fifth place.

“I fought,” he told a live television audience of 2 million viewers in 60 countries. “A few spots got me a little off my timing, but I was pushing.”

Vermont-educated Olympic gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin competes on the World Cup giant slalom course Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, at Killington Ski Resort. Photo by Dustin Sitloff/US Ski Team via Killington Resort

Despite all this, Killington has prepared enough snow-lined and groomed trails to successfully host its sixth World Cup – all while opening the new three-story K-1 Lodge at the finish line.

Killington may be the largest ski area in eastern North America, but it has faced many of the same challenges since it first welcomed the event in 2016.

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Daily attendance grew from 16,000 the opening year to 19,500 in 2019 – nearly 14 times the slope city’s population of 1,407. Then the Covid-19 pandemic canceled the 2020 run and forced Killington to limit daily ticket sales to 10,000 for 2021.

The resort lifted attendance restrictions this year, only to see Mother Nature threaten to keep everyone indoors.

Warm weather canceled seven of the international circuit’s first eight European races earlier this fall, prompting the Washington Post to report, “This World Cup ski season, climate change is winning. “

Clinton feared he might be on the list when temperatures soared to 72 degrees on Nov. 12. Freezing the next day, 120 snow guns were fired at the resort around the clock, allowing the International Ski and Snowboard Federation to greenlight the event. 10 days before its scheduled start.

“Every year seems to be a challenge,” said Killington President Mike Solimano. “The weather is always the biggest thing in this business, but there are always a lot of ups and downs for various reasons.”

Shafrin is related. The 2013 graduate of the Northeast Kingdom’s Brick Mountain Academy won last year’s Killington slalom, only to be struck down by Covid-19 and wiped out from the 2022 Olympics. She then returned this autumn with double victories in the first two races of the 2022–23 World Cup season.

The 27-year-old finished 13th in Saturday’s giant slalom, ahead of former University of Vermont skier Paula Moltzan in 18th and 2015 Burke Mountain Academy graduate Nina O’Brien in 23rd.

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“I could have turned a lot better,” Shiffrin told Vermont writer Peggy Shinn, who covered the event for Ski magazine. “But it’s also like we haven’t had a lot of practice the last two weeks.”

Shiffrin had high hopes for Sunday’s slalom. She was the fastest in the first run of the morning.

“I don’t care if I ski out today. I don’t care if I don’t finish,” he later told NBC. “I have to do my best.”

But the melting course fought back in the afternoon’s second round. Rounding out the podium, Shiffrin nevertheless hugged two skiers who tied for the top spot, Switzerland’s Wendy Holdner and Sweden’s Anna Sven Larsson.

“It’s just a joy to race in front of this crowd,” Shiffrin said. “He deserves to see us all put our best skiing on the line. Every race is a different story, so you just have to keep going.”

Fans and flags filled the grandstands at the 2022 World Cup of Ski Racing this weekend at Killington Resort in Vermont. Dustin Sitloff/US Ski Team photo via Killington Resort

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Tags: Killington, Killington Resort, Mikaela Shiffrin, World Cup

Kevin O'Connor

About Kevin

Kevin O’Connor is a Brattleborough-based writer and former staff member of the Sunday Rutland Herald and Times Argus.