U.S. Superstar claims fifth straight Slalom title, delighting fans
By Polly Mikula
The rivalry between Vermont-schooled Olympic gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin and Slovakia’s Petra Vhlova continues to be strong with the two superstar ski racers vying for the top spot on the Slalom podium. While Vhlova had secured the top spot the first two FIS Slalom races of the season in Finland, it was Shiffrin on top at Killington — her fifth consecutive win at the Killington Cup.
It was a thrilling finish to an unpredictable weekend.
Nearly a foot of snow fell just in time to welcome World Cup ski racers to Killington Friday, Nov. 26. Unfortunately it came with high winds causing poor visibility and internet outages throughout town. Despite heroic efforts by FIS and Killington Resort staff and volunteers, the blustery conditions ultimately caused officials to cancel the Giant Slalom race after just nine racers, Saturday.
While it’s not uncommon for races to be delayed or canceled due to weather on the FIS World Cup circuit, it was a first for Killington, who’s hosted the event five times now.
Paula Moltzan, a University of Vermont ski racer, who did not get to race Saturday, summed it up, saying it was a “bit of a bummer.”
But hundreds of fans would not be deterred by the weather or the cancelation and stayed to enjoy the two free concerts by DJ Z-Trip and O.A.R. in the K-1 festival village.
On Sunday the weather was nearly perfect: light wind, with temps in the mid-20s and a mix of sun and dusting snow.
Petra Vhlova, of Slovakia, was first out of the gate for the first run of Slalom on Sunday, and ended up holding onto the fastest time. Mikaela Shiffrin raced fifth and finished just 2/10 of a second behind Vhlova. Wendy Holdener, from Switzerland, finished third after the first run.
G. Love put on a show between the runs delighting race fans before the excitement of the Slalom finale.
For the second race only the top 30 finishers qualify and they compete in reverse order — creating maximum suspense, as racer after racer unseated the current leader.
The top three racers all had a chance to win it. Wendy Holdener first beat the field to stand at the top of the podium, but then Mikaela Shiffrin whizzed expertly through the gates and despite a few errors managing to take first place by a wide margin: 00.83 seconds over Holdener.
All that remained was to see how Petra Vhlova, who had a 0.20 second advantage over Shiffrin from the first run, would fare. The Slovakian made a crucial mistake on the upper half of the course, which cost her. When Vhlova crossed the finish line 0.75 seconds behind Shiffrin, the crowd went wild.
Shiffrin said after the race: “That was a fight. I am not sure if I could have gone any faster.”
The Killington Cup is the only race in the U.S. on the Women’s World Cup circuit. In addition to nearly 10,000 fans each day (limited this year due to the pandemic) the event attracted millions of television viewers in more than 60 countries.