On November 30, 2022

Women of Killington

By Merisa Sherman

I could feel the snow melting underneath my feet, as I swung my oldest, bestest ski sister around by the elbow. We were dancing in the joy of the moment and celebrating our 35-year-old sisterhood. Then we grabbed the next elbow, a woman who has never ski raced a day in her life, but has recently retired and embraced the 100 Day Club lifestyle with grace and enthusiasm. Off to the corner was another woman, who has moved to another ski town but comes home every year for this weekend.

The joy was palpable.

We were here together, the women of Killington. So many of us, finding skiing from so many different angles and yet all coming together. Business owners and employees, homeowners and those struggling to find housing yet again, young women just getting started and those who have been skiing for decades. But for this weekend, for this moment all of our differences fade away and we remind ourselves that we are all part of this skiing sisterhood. It doesn’t matter if you ski raced as a kid or just learned last year, there is something powerful about being a female ski bum.

I couldn’t hug enough of my sisters, as Michael Franti played yet another song about love and sunshine and community. I couldn’t take enough selfies with women who had completely changed my life by accepting me and my skiing obsession because they, too, are totally overwhelmed by the magic of this sport and how we all support each other and lift each other up. I couldn’t get enough of the amazing women who make up our ski and ride community.

There was one young lady in our area of the crowd, filled with local women who all knew each other. As soon as Franti stepped onto our platform, you could feel the women all reaching behind them to grab this 10-year-old ripper and push her up to the front. No one needed to talk about it; we all knew what to do. And there she was, rocking out next to Michael Franti and smiling from ear to ear. And even better, we were all smiling because we knew we had lifted another one of us forward.

World Cup Weekend — and ski racing itself — is amazing for so, so many reasons. Growing up, it was the only sport I saw where boys and girls trained and competed together, on the same course, on the same trail and did the same workouts. We weren’t two teams — we were one team.

Selfie by Merisa Sherman
Merisa Sherman (left) hugs a group of women at the Killington Cup races last weekend.

Yes, Cristina was the most amazing female coach and role model, but most of the time gender never mattered — We all carried huge bundles of gates to the top of the course, no matter who we were. It took years for me to notice that ski coaches expected the same effort and commitment, that we were never less than because we were girls. We always had strong women skiers to look up to and a lack of equality was never a thought in my head.
I try every year to express the feeling that rolls through the crowd on World Cup Weekend, the sense of unity and belonging, of celebrating and lifting, of welcoming and supporting. As the BF and I were walking into the venue on Saturday morning, I saw an ad that showed images of Killington fans cheering paired to the steady beat of a drum. The message at the end was bold and simple: “We cheer for every nation. Killington.”

I haven’t seen that video again, but it brought a tear to my eye and it certainly wouldn’t be World Cup without a few tears of pride and joy.

But we don’t just cheer for every nation. We cheer for every skier. Besides the fact that most of the time you cannot tell what kind of human is underneath all that ski gear, we just want people to love skiing. Period. When we see skiers struggling on the hill because a spouse has taken them down the wrong trail, we don’t make fun of the skier struggling — we are angry at the better skier who put them in that position because they are ruining the message. Skiing is supposed to be fun, not traumatizing. We want them to love skiing so much their soul hurts when the snow melts and we can welcome them into the ski sisterhood.

We are truly blessed to be the epicenter of women in skiing, especially with the U.S. Ski Team choosing to announce their new HERoic initiative right here in our town. Perhaps they have learned a thing or two about women’s skiing from watching us cheer and hug each other. Perhaps it is our little town that is leading the way, showing the world what a skiing sisterhood truly looks like. Because I know. I am truly honored to be a part of this wonderfully supportive community, led by some truly amazing women.

So, let’s keep cheering, Killington.

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