By Evan Johnson
KILLINGTON — You would’ve been hard-pressed to find a seat at the hibachi table at Sushi Yoshi this weekend, the line for beer and groceries at the Killington Deli was long and foreign languages could be heard up and down the hallways of the Killington Grand Resort Hotel.
That’s what happened when the Audi FIS World Cup came to Killington Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 26-27.
An estimated 30,000 spectators joined the Thanksgiving weekend traffic to the mountain resort town, mushrooming traffic in the resort town of 800.
At the Killington Deli on Route 4, owner Cliff Koch said he had huge trucks full of equipment filling the parking lot as soon as the resort was green-lighted for the weekend’s races.
“There were trucks full of steel waiting to head up to the mountain,” he said. “The jumbo-tron was out there, too. When they got the word, they moved fast.”
Inside, throughout the Thanksgiving weekend, there was a steady line for groceries. Koch said the traffic dwarfed any records from last season.
“You can’t go by anything from last year, because last year wasn’t much,” he said. “But this was huge.”
Up at the resort, Killington communications manager Michael Joseph described the event in one world: “Legendary.”
The last event that Killington hosted that drew a crowd remotely comparable was the Dew Tour in 2012. Initial estimates showed over 16,000 Saturday and over 13,000 on Sunday for an estimate of approximately 30,000 fans over the two day event. At press time, Joseph was looking into rumors that the Killington Slalom and Giant Slalom race set records for the largest crowd at a women’s World Cup race. On top of that, they contended with 4,000 skiers on the hill Saturday and 2,300 on Sunday. The mountain reported having 21 trails open for skiing and riding, the most in the East.
When the action cooled down on Superstar, visitors filled restaurants, bars and nightclubs to capacity. Seats at Sushi Yoshi’s hibachi tables were booked throughout the weekend. The Pickle Barrel Nightclub required visitors to bring a valid ID, passport or photo of passport along with a valid ID for security on account of the high traffic.
While the Killington Grand Resort Hotel was full to capacity as the race headquarters and the lodging for the teams, visitors booked rooms in Ludlow, Woodstock, Rutland, and as far away as Stowe.
Killington got high marks in every category.
“Right now, we’re hearing nothing but glowing positive feedback from FIS, the ski teams and about every part of the process,” Joseph said.
Will the World Cup return next year? While Joseph said there isn’t room for another stop on U.S. tour and would have to compete with Aspen, Squaw Valley and Deer Creek for next year, representatives from each of those areas were in attendance and noted how Killington conducted logistics very well for this event. Joseph said Killington’s performance could be used as a model at future races.
“It was a nice way to be guinea pigs for ourselves but also for other areas too,” he said.
By Evan Johnson