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After Covid Hiatus, World Cup Racing Returns to North America

American racers will once again get a chance to prove themselves on home snow during an Olympic year.

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Every day, Americans are seeing signs that life is slowly beginning to get back to normal after more than a year of pandemic lockdowns. This week, alpine racing fans received another dose of good news: World Cup ski racing will once again return to Killington, Vt. for the women’s World Cup slalom and giant slalom events in 2021 and 2022.

The 2020-’21 Alpine World Cup season was a success in many ways, not least of which was that it happened at all amidst a worldwide pandemic. But American racing fans were left sorely disappointed when the International Ski Federation (FIS) made the decision to cancel the North American stops amid health and travel concerns as the U.S. became one of the hotspots for coronavirus transmission during the summer of 2020.

This meant that racers from the U.S. and Canada were not given the opportunity to race on home snow at the World Cup Tour’s usual North American stops in Killington, Vt., Beaver Creek, Colo., and Lake Louise, Alberta. It also meant that North American racers were required to spend most of the 2021 World Cup Tour living out of suitcases and hotel rooms in Europe, rather than getting the chance to travel home periodically between races on either side of the Atlantic.

But this week, Vermont’s Killington Resort announced that it would once again host the women’s World Cup slalom and giant slalom races in 2021 after FIS confirmed the stop on the 2021-’22 World Cup Tour calendar for Thanksgiving weekend, Nov. 27-28, 2021.

Mikaela Shiffrin skis the 2019 Killington World Cup slalom
Mikaela Shiffrin on her way to victory in the 2019 Killington World Cup slalom.

“Bringing FIS Alpine World Cup racing back to Killington Resort for the 2021-’22 Olympic season is an incredible opportunity for the resort and the surrounding community,” Mike Solimano, president and general manager of Killington and Pico Mountain, told U.S. Ski and Snowboard. “Come fall, we’ll utilize every opportunity to build a world-class race venue on Superstar with Killington’s state-of-the-art snowmaking system.”

While spectators weren’t permitted at any of the 2020-’21 World Cup Tour events due to health and safety concerns, Killington and U.S. Ski and Snowboard are hopeful that they’ll once again be able to safely welcome race fans in the grandstands at Killington come fall.

When Killington was first added to the World Cup Tour schedule in 2016, it became the first Eastern resort to host a World Cup race since 1991, and the first Vermont resort to be included on the Tour since 1978.

Given New England’s strong alpine racing heritage and the long absence of competitive World Cup events there, it’s not surprising that the Killington World Cup stop quickly became a fan favorite, attracting a whopping 39,000 spectators in 2018 and becoming one of the top three most attended stops on the women’s World Cup Tour.

The 2019 World Cup races in Killington attracted thousdans of spectators
The Killington World Cup races have become a fan and athlete favorite since the inaugural event in 2016. Photo: Jack Arrix/U.S. Ski and Snowboard

For this reason, Killington is also an athlete favorite, especially for tech specialists like two-time Olympic Champion Mikaela Shiffrin and Paula Moltzan. For Shiffrin, who attended Vermont’s Burke Mountain Academy, and Moltzan, who skied for the University of Vermont, the Killington World Cup stop is a homecoming.

Related: Mikaela Shiffrin is “pushing her limits to keep up” in changing slalom landscape

Whether it’s the thousands of screaming fans or the home snow advantage, Killington has become one of Shiffrin’s most successful World Cup venues, with the American nabbing victories at all four slalom events here since the inaugural race in 2016.

Watch: Shiffrin Dominates 2019 Killington World Cup Slalom

And with the 2021 Killington World Cup stop marking the beginning of an Olympic season, these races are sure to attract an even bigger crowd and showcase some of the best women’s racing yet.

“I’m looking forward to seeing local and regional communities at Killington come together once again to support World Cup racing, especially in a year when athletes are vying for their Olympic spot,” says Herwig Demschar, chair of the local organizing committee in Killington. “Killington Resort has proven its ability to successfully host large-scale events and everyone knows The Beast throws a great party, making it all the more exciting to see Killington and East Coast ski racing fans unite for another year of celebrating the sport.”

Tickets to the Kilington World Cup races go on sale on Sept. 9, 2021.

The preliminary draft of the FIS 2021-’22 World Cup Tour schedule also once again lists the traditional stops in Lake Louise for both the men’s and women’s speed races, as well as the men’s Birds of Prey races in Beaver Creek, Colo. Dates are still tentative and subject to change, so stay tuned for more 2021-’22 World Cup racing updates.

 

Highlights From the 2021 World Cup Season

10 Fast and Furious Moments from the 2021 World Cup Tour
The U.S. Ski Teamer You Should Be Watching (Who Isn’t Mikaela Shiffrin)
Meet the Next Great U.S. Downhiller