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December 7, 2016

Tears of pride as Killington hosts first World Cup

By Merisa Sherman, author of Tales from a Female Ski Bum blog
Like so many East Coasters, I grew up ski racing. Membership in the Killington Ski Team meant that my family had a legitimate reason to spend every weekend skiing. Any small amount of success meant that I could justify taking Fridays or Mondays off as well. Commitment meant that my dad and I could ski and practice drills at my home mountain after school a couple nights midweek. For my dad and I, ski racing was always an excuse to ski. And we couldn’t get enough. We would race through elementary school and high school and, later, a little college, traveling around mid-Vermont and later New England, experiencing the differences in the ski areas, learning their distinctive individual histories but marveling at a commitment to ski racing that was the same everywhere.
For me, the East was simply a collection of ski areas.
We grew up gathering the stories of the great skiers of Vermont, but we never saw them. Not one. I had posters of Diane Roffe Steinrotter and Julie Parisien hanging in my room, but I never saw them. I knew they existed, my dad and I watched ski races from around the world on television and our coaches spent hours analyzing their technique in the media room, but we never saw them. My calves were so skier-huge, that my ski shop was stoked to special order me a pair of Julie Parisien’s black and pink boots from Rossignol, but that was as close as I ever got to seeing my heroes.
Growing up, I thought the tough and dedicated East coasters just must not love ski racing as much as Europeans and West coasters. World Cup ski racing was a dream, something that happened far away across the world in Europe and Colorado, where people gathered wearing fur and $2,000 jackets to cheer on their athletes while the nitty gritty ski racers of Vermont just … well, we just weren’t.
Until now.
This weekend, over 30,000 people from around the East coast proved to the world what we have always known, here, in Killington and Vermont, deep down inside. No one, and I mean NO ONE, loves skiing more than us.
I could feel myself shaking as we pulled out of the house on Saturday morning. The boyfriend and I were practically sailing as we speed walked up the Killington Access Road, too excited to wait on line for the bus. Superstar, the trail we ride all spring long, on which I got my 200th day and the trail my dad always claimed was his favorite, was awash in the blues and reds of ski racing. Even though we’d been watching all the hoopla be installed over the past few weeks, it was nothing compared to that walk. I listened to foreign accents analyze both the course and the hill, speaking of my home mountain with an awed respect. The biggest blue Killington banners I had ever seen hung from the back of the grandstands, shouting MORE everything. There was an insane line for bag inspection and security guards everywhere. Everything and everyone seemed to be buzzing with excitement.
So we went skiing.
We rode the Snowdon Triple and the Poma, the home of my ski racing career and the lifts on which I have spent more of my ski life than anywhere else. I can ski the fallaway left on Upper Bunny Buster with my eyes closed. As the trees broke at the top of the race trail, Highline, I turned to the left and saw it. World Cup ski racing in all its glory while we sat on the old AF Snowdon Triple. The beauty of the moment, the simplicity and the magic of it all. We listened to the names of Vermont’s historic ski clubs being read as their young athletes paraded into the arena. My history of Vermont all rolled together in one blurry moment. It was the first time of many that I would find tears in my eyes on this day. We tried, but we couldn’t stay skiing any longer—we had to go to the races.

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