Beating the rain, a record-setting Killington World Cup reigns

A record-breaking 21,000 fans watched from the Killington resort on Saturday, the stop for the U.S. women’s singles on the World Figure Skating circuit. Photo by Dustin Satloff/US Ski Team via Killington Resort

KILLINGTON – Vermont scholastic Olympic gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin grabbed the NBC microphone last weekend and gave a record-setting shout to the World Ski Championships crowd.

“You can hear the roar, you can feel that buzz,” she said among 21,000 fans at the Killington resort. “They always bring energy here.”

The women’s international circuit’s lone U.S. stop came with a nail-biting story of wild weather and disappointment for Shiffrin, who lost her bid to win a sixth regional slalom title as a result.

Giant banners promised “Winter” and “More Snow” in the packed Killington stands. However, Sunday morning’s rising temperatures and mid-afternoon rain confirmed the resort’s three-legged outlet’s final word: “Another adventure.”

Shiffrin was fastest in the first round of the Cup-capping slalom. But while waiting to be the last skater on the second run, The course was slowed by 0.59 per second, landing him in fifth place.

“I fought,” he told a television audience of 2 million viewers in 60 countries. “It’s a little off-time in some places, but it’s pushing through.”

Vermont school Olympic gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin at Killington Ski Resort on Saturday. November 26 Competing on the World Cup Giant Slalom course in 2022. Photo: Dustin Satloff/US Ski Team via Killington Resort

despite all Killington has gunned down enough snow and built enough trail to successfully host its sixth World Cup — all while opening a new three-story K-1 lodge towering over the finish line.

Killington may be the largest ski area east of North America, but it’s faced many similar-sized challenges since its first welcome event in 2016.

Frost’s daily attendance has grown from 16,000 the inaugural year to 19,500 in 2019 — nearly 14 times the Slope City’s population of 1,407. Then the Covid-19 pandemic canceled the 2020 tournament, forcing Killington to limit 2021 daily ticket sales to 10,000.

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Mother Nature is threatening to keep everyone at home as the resort lifts attendance restrictions this year.

Warm weather has canceled seven of the first eight European competitions on the international circuit this fall, with the Washington Post reporting that “climate change wins this World Cup ski season.”

When the temperature soared to 72 degrees on Nov. 12, Killington feared it would be on the list. The next day, it froze, and the resort installed 120 snow guns around the clock, giving the International Ski and Snowboard Federation the green light. 10 days before the start of the program.

“Every year seems to be a challenge,” said Killington President Mike Solimano. “Weather is the biggest factor in this business.” But there are many ups and downs for various reasons.”

Shiffrin said. The 2013 graduate of Burke Mountain Academy in Northeast Kingdom won the Killington slalom last year after the 2022 Olympics were hit by Covid-19. She then returned this fall with doubles victories in the first two races of the 2022-23 World Cup season.

The 27-year-old finished 13th in the giant slalom on Saturday, ahead of 2015 Burke Mountain Academy graduate Nina O’Brien in 18th and University of Vermont skier Paula Moltzan in 23rd.

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“I can do better tricks than that,” said Shiffrin, a Vermont writer who covered the event for Ski magazine. “But the last couple of weeks, it’s like we haven’t had much practice.”

Shiffrin has higher hopes for Sunday’s slalom. She was the fastest on the first run of the morning.

“I don’t care if I skate today. I don’t care if it’s not done,” he told NBC News. “I have to push as hard as I can.”

But the melting pot fought back in the second round of the afternoon. As she finished on the podium, Shiffrin hugged Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener and Sweden’s Anna Swenn-Larsson, who tied for the top spot.

“It’s great to race in front of this crowd,” Shiffrin said. “We all deserve to see our best skiing put on the line. Every race is a different story, so you have to keep driving.”

Fans and flags fill the grandstands at this weekend’s 2022 World Ski Championships at Vermont’s Killington resort. Photo by Dustin Satloff/US Ski Team via Killington Resort

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Tags: Killington, Killington Resort, Mikaela Shiffrin, World Cup

Kevin O'Connor

About Kevin

Kevin O’Connor is a Brattleboro-based writer and former staff writer for the Sunday Rutland Herald and Times Argus.