Can Shiffrin defend her Slalom title amongst the fastest women technical ski racers?
By Polly Mikula
This weekend, Nov. 27-28, the Women’s Audi FIS Ski World Cup returns to Killington for Giant Slalom and Slalom races. Last year, all North American FIS Alpine ski races were canceled due to the pandemic.
“Returning from a pandemic-induced hiatus last year, the fifth iteration of the Audi FIS Ski World Cup will be another incredible weekend of ski racing, music, and camaraderie,” said Herwig Demschar, Powdr senior vice-president, international business development and World Cup local organizing chairman. “With athletes from more than 20 countries on their way to the Green Mountain State in the coming days, the resort, Powdr, and the town of Killington are delighted to welcome them all.”
At the HomeLight Killington Cup, about 100 athletes will compete in the technical events of Slalom and Giant Slalom on Killington’s Superstar trail. In the past, tens of thousands of race fans from across the Northeast have descended on The Beast to watch the races in person. This year, the resort will control crowds by ticketing the event for the first time. Additionally, the races will be broadcast to an audience of 2.1 million people in 60 countries.
Fans at Killington will have their eyes on Vermont-schooled Mikaela Shiffrin as she attempts to defend her Slalom title at the HomeLight Killington Cup. She has won all four of the past Slalom races at Killington.
She has a good chance of earning a spot on the podium in Giant Slalom, too.
There have already been two FIS Slalom races and one Giant Slalom, plus a Parallel Slalom — all held in Europe — thus far this season. And perhaps there’s more at stake than ever for athletes as the 2022 Winter Olympics approach in February.
Shiffrin won the Giant Slalom in Solden, Austria, on Oct. 23. Lara Gut-Behrami came in second 0.14 seconds behind Shiffrin, and Petra Vlhova came in third 1.30 seconds behind Shiffrin.
But Petra Petra Vlhova, from Slovakia, took the top Slalom spot in the first two back-to-back Slalom races held in Levi, Finland Nov. 20 and 21.
Shiffrin finished both Slalom races in second and Lena Duerr finished third both days— creating a déjà vu experience on the podium. On Saturday, Shiffrin finished 0.31 seconds behind Vlhova and Duerr finished third 0.84 seconds behind. On Sunday, Shiffrin finished 0.47 seconds behind Vlhova and Duerr 0.78 seconds behind.
According to FIS (International Ski Federation), the governing body of the Audi FIS Ski World Cup, Shiffrin made a huge mistake at the beginning of the steep pitch, which cost her precious 100ths. But Shiffrin said: “I am not disappointed with anything, I was pushing, made a mistake, and we don’t know what would have happened without the mistake. But after that, I pushed even harder.”
Neither Shiffrin nor Vlhova competed in the Parallel Slalom held in Lech Zurs, Austria, on Nov. 13. Duerr finished seventh.
This year, the HomeLight Killington Cup is a fully ticketed event, a change from prior years’ events. General admission tickets are available online in advance for $5. Grandstand and VIP tickets are sold out, but at least a few premiere grandstand tickets were available for Sunday as of press time. All premiere parking is also sold out but free lots and shuttles are available starting at 6:30 a.m.
With a ticket, spectators can view the races, enter the Festival Village and enjoy the three outdoor concerts: DJ Z-Trip will play Saturday after the first run of Giant Slalom and O.A.R. will play after the second run. Then Sunday, G. Love will play after the first run of Slalom.
“The energy surrounding the weekend is truly unmatched anywhere on the race circuit,” said Amy Laramie, director of communications, events and special projects for Killington Resort.
All proceeds from ticket sales benefit the Killington World Cup Foundation, which supports athlete hospitality and provides grants to support winter sports infrastructure and access to winter sports throughout the region.
The resort strongly recommends not bringing bags to the venue; priority for security screening will be given to those without bags.
Vaccine or negative test required
Killington’s priority is to protect the wellbeing of spectators, athletes and staff for the duration of the HomeLight Killington Cup. Actions being taken to prioritize the wellbeing of the community include requiring proof of vaccine or a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours prior to the event from all spectators.
For more information visit killington.com/worldcup.