© Reese Brown
Mikaela Shiffrin took first place in Slalom in the 2016 FIS World Cup race at Killington.
By Evan Johnson
With big crowds and world-class performances by some of skiing’s elite, the return of World Cup racing to Killington and the East Coast was one for the history books.
Some 30,000 spectators made the trip to the base of the Superstar trail as a field of 57 competitors took to the slope. From the start of Saturday’s Giant Slalom race, it was apparent that the Beast of the East meant business, taking down fourth-place starter and Olympic champion Lara Gut in the top half of the course. Of the 57 racers that started, 13 fell or missed gates, resulting in a DNF.
One of the most anticipated athletes was 21-year-old American Mikaela Shiffrin, coming into the event as one of the winningest and youngest racers in years. Only three women have won more World Cup races before turning 22 years old: Annemarie Moser Pröll (41), Lise-Marie Morerod (24) and Erika Hess (23). In Saturday’s Giant Slalom, Shiffrin skied conservatively, finishing fifth overall behind fourth place finisher Marta Bassino of Italy. Tessa Worley of France took first, followed by Nina Loeseth of Norway and Sofia Goggia of Italy, taking second and third, respectively.
After claiming four recent World Cup Slalom races on the FIS circuit, Sunday saw Shiffrin hoping to extend her winning streak. The tight and technical course saw 11 racers receiving DNFs while another 13 did not qualify for the second run. Mikaela Shiffrin raced to victory with nearly a full second ahead of second-place finisher Veronika Velez-Zuzulová of Slovakia. Since the start of 2015, Velez-Zuzulová had finished in the top-six in 13 of the World Cup Slalom races she participated in, tied with Frida Hansdotter in this time period. Wendy Holdener of Switzerland finished just .07 seconds behind Velez-Zuzulová for third place.
Shiffrin would also record Slalom wins in Sestriere, Italy; Semmering, Austria; Maribor, Slovenia; St. Moritz, Switzerland; and Squaw Valley in the United States. Shiffrin picked up a fourth overall Slalom title in five seasons and joined Lindsey Vonn in winning 10 or more races in a single season. Just five days after her 22nd birthday, Shiffrin became the youngest person to win the World Cup overall title since 2003.
Can she do it again? We’ll be watching to see.