The Women's Ski World Cup returns to Killington for Thanksgiving 2017
The Women's Ski World Cup returns to Killington for Thanksgiving 2017
With American standouts Mikaela Shiffrin and Lindsey Vonn’s courageous return to the circuit, the 2017 Thanksgiving weekend will be a phenomenal repeat of last year’s inaugural World Cup race on Killington’s Superstar Trail. The best female skiers in the world will blaze down the slope during the return of the Audi FIS Women's Ski World Cup to Killington, Vermont, on November 25 and 26, 2017.
More than 30,000 people came to Killington to witness the return of World Cup skiing to the east coast of America. The World Cup had not been held at an East Coast ski area since New Hampshire in 1991, and not in Vermont since 1978.
In June, Killington World Cup LOC Chair Herwig Demschar announced several improvements over the inaugural race last year.
“What you see compared to last year is, I think people are really confident about their roles now. In the team we had a picture of what it was going to be, and even myself – to be honest – I didn’t expect that many spectators either. I thought if we had 10,000 we were going to be good," Demschar said with a chuckle. "But being confident doesn’t mean that we are going to grow complacent. Anything we can do better we want to do better, and it’s great to work with a team like this. It’s humbling for me, and it’s really fun.”
Killington quickly established itself as one of the premier locations for the women’s alpine World Cup, especially with its proximity to major eastern metropolitan markets. As a lead-in to the February 2018 Olympics, Killington may draw an even larger crowd.
The largest resort in Vermont incorporated the local ski culture into its marketing of the event. Last year’s Opening Ceremony Parade featured Vermont Alpine Racing Association (VARA) athletes in all age groups, celebrating the state’s commitment to the sport of ski racing. This year, they have added a Sunday morning parade, inviting ski athletes from throughout the USSA EASTERN Division, which includes my daughter’s team from Massachusetts. She is ecstatic. The youth racers, marching with their ski clubs, will carry the participating nations' flags, culminating in the finish area to kick off the competition each day.
Tessa Worley of France celebrates her win at the AUDI FIS Ski World Cup Grand Slalom at Killigton, Vermont. ©Mark D Phillips
And this year the course will be even more challenging.
The giant slalom and slalom race starts will begin further up the hill, making the run times slightly longer. In GS, the start will begin 10 vertical meters higher than in 2016 on a plateau at the top of the Superstar lift which will add one turning gate prior to Upper Headwall. The slalom start is approximately 70 meters higher up than last season, adding additional turns to the beginning of the course.
The general public is invited to view the women’s giant slalom and slalom races from free general admission areas or from the grandstands as a limited number of premium grandstand tickets remain. The free viewing areas will accommodate approximately 12,000 spectators and Killington will provide free parking and an enhanced shuttle system for event spectators during the weekend.
Last year, spectators were able to see almost half of the slalom course and more than a third of the GS course from the viewing areas. Jumbo screens in the viewing areas provide 100% viewing coverage.
The 2016 Killington GS winner Tessa Worley of France finished second in the inaugural race of the 2017 World Cup season at Soelden (AUT) on October 28, 2017. Mikaela Shiffrin of the US, who won the slalom title at Killington in 2016, finished a disappointing 5th. Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany came away with the first victory of the season. Rebensburg finished 19th in the Killington GS in 2016. Will she podium at the base of Superstar?
Mikaela Shiffrin shows her form in the first run of the AUDI FIS Ski World Cup Slalom at Killington. ©Mark D Phillips
Shiffrin, of course, will be the favorite to repeat on the podium for Sunday’s slalom. The Burke Mountain Academy graduate has attained the premier status of US and world skiers in the discipline. Lindsey Vonn, who has won an unprecedented 77 women’s World Cups and is closing in on the men’s mark of 86 held by Ingemar Stenmark, will set her sights on dethroning Shiffrin at the first race of the season on US soil.
And once the races finish each day, the party will continue.
“Combining top-notch entertainment with one of the world’s most premier ski racing events makes for an amazing, party-like weekend at Killington for families and fans of all ages,” said Mike Solimano, President and General Manager of Killington Resort. “We are thrilled Dispatch will headline our full weekend of World Cup Race festivities and hope the public comes out to enjoy the concerts, movie premiers, opening parades, fireworks, our unique dining experiences and autograph signings, in addition to the women’s giant slalom and slalom races.”
Dispatch, who formed while attending Vermont’s Middlebury College, will return to their Green Mountain State roots for the free concert on Saturday, Nov. 25 at Killington’s K-1 Base Area. Known as one of the biggest independent rock bands in history, Dispatch hit a major career milestone when they played an outdoor concert in Boston that drew over 110,000. Killington is their only scheduled appearance in the state of Vermont.
In addition, the Resort will host a free concert on Friday, Nov. 24 featuring Troy Ramey, originally from Woodstock, VT, and best known for soaring through season 12 of the hit singing competition “The Voice.”
Killington’s Snowshed Base Lodge will host two separate movie premiers throughout the weekend, including new releases from Teton Gravity Research and Warren Miller Entertainment showcasing extreme snow sports and thrilling cinematography, with proceeds from Friday and Saturday’s showings benefiting the Pico Ski Club and Killington Ski Club respectively.
The World Cup Expo Village, located at the K-1 Base Area, will feature over 40 unique sponsors, ranging from artisan Vermont craft and food vendors to the latest ski industry hardware and technology companies.
As events go, there is nothing quite like the party atmosphere at the World Cup. With the best female skiers showing off their abilities on one of Vermont’s most challenging race trails, Killington will be the place to be for Thanksgiving.
KILLINGTON WORLD CUP THROUGH A USSA EASTERN REGION SKIER'S EYES
by Liza Phillips
U-21 skier on the Blandford Ski Area Race Team, Massachusetts
Liza Phillips with friends Morgan Lilly and Jayne Phair at Killington World Cup. ©Mark D Phillips
The World Cup at Killington, one of the largest events based on the number of spectators, is one of the best decisions that FIS has made for spreading the sport. With almost 33,000 spectators between the two days, just by watching the other races on the circuit on TV, it could be seen that this was possibly the biggest race the women have spectator-wise besides the World Cup Finals.
As a spectator at this event, many of the people around me were fellow racers. Many race teams, whether school or club, also made the trip together. The ease of getting to the slope, the comfort of the amenities of the mountain, and the way that the organizers created a way for the fans to be close to the athletes created an experience of a lifetime for people lucky enough to go to this event.
Also, the unique way that the organizers included youth from neighboring ski teams to be a part of the festivities really helped kids to realize their skiing dreams at this event. Between the parade of Vermont Alpine Racing Association (VARA) teams, having top youth racers from the neighboring ski academies be forerunners, and the introduction this year of a parade on the second day for ski teams from around New England are incredible ways in which Killington is using this event to inspire the next generation.
As a kid who has grown up racing and watching World Cup events on TV, the ability to go to an event in person is something that will stay with me forever.
Being surrounded by 33,000 people with the same interest as me is a feeling that not many people get to experience in their lifetime. Being able to meet strong female athletes, even role models, so easily and who are just as excited to meet you is not something fans of many other sports get to experience. The unique culture of an individual sport like this one, where you are representing yourself and your country rather than a team that you are contracted to creates a space that other sports don’t have. Instead of an obligation to teammates, the racers at the World Cup level have friends around the world, while racers at the youth level are able to make friends with people from around their region, and even meet kids on other teams that they might not have known are from their own town.
The Killington World Cup creates a space for east coast skiers, racers, and sports fans to be a part of something that the west coast, Canada, and Europe have gotten to experience for many years. Generations between 1991 (when the men’s World Cup made a stop at Waterville Valley in New Hampshire) and 2016 did not get a chance to experience what we did last year and will again this year.
So thank you Killington and FIS for creating a space for east coast skiers to dream, and showing that greatness is not that far as long as you put in a little hard work and training.
Liza Phillips races at Berkshire East in the U19 Slalom Schaefer Cup. ©Mark D Phillips
KILLINGTON WORLD CUP 2016