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

A record crowd of 21,000 spectators watched the 2022 Killington Resort. The opening of the only US women’s stop on the World Cup ski racing circuit. Photo by Dustin Satloff/US Ski Team via Killington Resort

KILLINGTON — Vermont-schooled Olympic gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin took the NBC microphone over the weekend to greet the record-breaking World Cup ski race crowd.

“You can hear the roar, you can feel this hum,” she told a crowd of 21,000 at the Killington resort. “They always bring energy here.”

The international circuit’s only U.S. women’s stop also came with a dramatic story of wild weather and frustration for Shiffrin, who lost her sixth straight local slalom title.

“More Winter” and “More Snow” were promised on giant banners in the packed Killington stands. Nevertheless, Sunday morning’s rising temperatures and afternoon rain confirmed the final words of the resort’s tee-plug: “More adventures.”

Shiffrin was fastest in the first lap of the cup slalom. But as she waited to be the last skier on the second run, the course softened enough to slow her down by 0.59 seconds to land in fifth place.

“I fought,” she told a live television audience of 2 million viewers in 60 countries. “Some places are a little out of time, but I’ve tried.”

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

Despite all that, Killington built and groomed enough snow to successfully host his sixth world championship, opening a towering 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 challenges of similar size since it first welcomed the event in 2016.

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Daily visitors increased from 16,000 to 19,500 in 2019, almost 14 times the population of 1,407. Then the Covid-19 pandemic canceled 2020. race and forced Killington to limit 2021. daily ticket sales up to 10,000 tickets.

This year, the resort lifted the restrictions on visitors, only to see Mother Nature threaten to keep everyone indoors.

Warm weather earlier this fall canceled seven of the first eight European races on the international circuit, prompting the Washington Post to declare, “Climate change wins this World Cup ski season.”

Killington feared he might join the list when the Nov. 12 the temperature will rise to 72 degrees. The next day, the frozen resort was pumping 120 snow guns around the clock, so the International Ski and Snowboard Federation just announced the event. 10 days before its scheduled start.

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

Shiffrin related. in 2013 The graduate of North East Kingdom’s Burke Mountain Academy won last year’s Killington slalom, but was struck down by Covid-19 and 2022. Olympic Games. She returned this fall with a doubleheader victory in the first two of 2022-23. races of the world cup season.

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

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“I can make much better turns,” Shiffrin told Vermont writer Peggy Shinn, who covered the event for Ski magazine. “But it also feels like we haven’t had a lot of practice doing that the last few weeks.”

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

“I don’t care if I ski today. I don’t care if I don’t finish,” she told NBC afterward. “I have to try my best.”

However, the melt rate fought back in the second round of the afternoon. Once on the podium, Shiffrin did hug the two skiers who tied for the top spot, Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener and Sweden’s Anna Swenn-Larsson.

“It’s just nice to race in front of this crowd,” Shiffrin said. “They deserve to see us all give our best skiing.” Every race is a different story, so you just have to keep going.

This weekend in 2022 Fans and flags fill the stands at the World Cup Ski Race at Killington Resort, Vermont. Photo by Dustin Satloff/US Ski Team 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 Brattleboro writer and former employee of the Sunday Rutland Herald and Times Argus.