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On Friday, Nov. 23 the world’s best female technical skiers will launch themselves out of the start hut at the top Killington Resort’s Superstar trail to race for the third World Cup win of the 2018-’19 season.
The U.S. usually only hosts two World Cup stops each year, with the circuit traveling throughout European countries for the majority of the season. But for the third consecutive season Vermont’s Killington Resort will have the honor of hosting the Audi FIS World Cup, and while Americans are generally not known to be alpine racing enthusiast on the same scale as the Europeans, the past two Killington events have brought out spectators by the thousands.
Last year’s race weekend was attended by more than 30,000 people, proving by the numbers just how big of a draw alpine ski racing is on the East Coast.
“There’s an enormous racing culture on the East Coast,” explains Courtney Harkins, a communications representative for Killington Resort. “Everyone here is starved for alpine ski racing. There hasn’t really been an opportunity to watch live world cup ski racing unless you travel to Colorado or outside of the country. So when World Cup returned to Killington, people just showed up in droves.”
The stronger racing culture out East is one explanation for the popularity of the Killington event, but there’s obviously another: the Shiffrin factor.
Mikaela Shiffrin, the U.S. Ski Team’s best technical skier—one could argue she’s superior to any male or female team member—and one of the most talented and successful skiers in all alpine disciplines worldwide, should be credited with drawing a huge chunk of the crowd to Killington’s Slalom and GS races. Not only is the two-time Olympic gold medalist and three-time overall World Cup champion a sensational skier who’s definitely worth watching live, but she’s also an East Coast insider, having attended Vermont’s Burke Mountain Academy and started her racing career in New England.
The well-deserved hype that surrounds Shiffrin is likely to bring even more people out to this year’s Killington Cup, especially since Shiffrin is currently at the top of the World Cup leader board, just coming off a slalom win in Levi, Finland, and a third place in the season-opening GS in Sölden, Austria.
Though Shiffrin certainly has some competition hot on her heels—watch for Tessa Worley and Federica Brignone in the GS, and Frida Hansdotter and Wendy Holdener in the slalom—our bet is on Shiffrin this weekend.
Read more: Mikaela Shiffrin Wins Levi Slalom
But regardless of how Shiffrin skis, those attending this weekend’s events in Killington can look forward to not only world-class skiing, but a world-class party. Races on both days will be bookended by live musical acts by top performers like KT Tunstall, Michael Franti and Guster, along with ski movie premiers of TGR’s Far Out and Warren Miller Entertainment’s Face of Winter.
The best part of the Killington’s World Cup event: it’s free and open to the public. Killington Resort will also remain open to the skiing and riding public throughout the World Cup weekend, so you can do it all: ski, spectate, and party.