Killington’s Superstar trail will host the women’s World Cup Nov. 26-27. (Eric Wilbur)
As if Killington needed another reason for people to show up over Thanksgiving weekend.
Not only will the Vermont resort once again welcome the world’s top female slalom and giant slalom racers for the latest edition of the wildly-popular Killington Cup (the resort received the official go from the International Ski and Snowboard Federation on the morning of Nov. 16), but the self-proclaimed “Beast of the East” will also debut its massive, re-imagined K-1 Base Lodge. The state-of-the-art structure, nearly three years in the making, covers some 58,000 square feet, making it nearly twice the size of its predecessor. The three-floor lodge will boast one of the only escalators in the entire Green Mountain state, with nearly 900 seats available for guests between the food court, cafe, and multiple bar areas.
“This is a significant step in fulfilling our vision to transform the way guests experience and enjoy Killington for years to come,” Killington president and general manager Mike Solimano said.
You could say the same about the World Cup’s annual presence at the resort. Since its inception in 2016, the Killington Cup, which holds its races on the famed Superstar trail, has become an electric stop on the women’s racing circuit, one that has reminded the International Skiing Federation of the appetite that exists for World Cup racing in the eastern United States.
Prior to the Killington Cup’s debut, the last World Cup event in the Northeast took place in 1991. Thirty-one years later, the current event once again promises to serve as the de facto opening ceremony for the New England skiing and riding calendar.
“It is truly an honor to welcome the World Cup each year to Killington,” Solimano said. “Watching world-class athletes racing down Superstar, encouraged by such a passionate crowd, is an unmatched experience.”
Mikaela Shiffrin, the product of Vermont’s Burke Mountain Academy, a five-time Killington Cup slalom winner, and last season’s overall World Cup winner, remains the poster athlete for the event. Other local standouts should include former University of Vermont skier Paula Moltzan as well as Burke graduate and Dartmouth student Nina O’Brien.
This year’s giant slalom race will be the first at Killington since 2019. The 2020 Killington Cup was cancelled due to the pandemic, while last year’s Saturday GS race was halted after only nine racers had taken their first runs. Nineteen inches of snow and wind gusts forced cancellation of the event. An estimated 20,000 spectators showed up for the weekend in 2021. In 2019, an estimated 36,500 spectators showed up over three days, including a one-day record of 19,500 for that year’s giant slalom race.
Shiffrin also made history at the race in 2021. Her win in the Sunday slalom race gave her 46 wins, tying Ingemar Stenmark (giant slalom) for most victories in a single discipline. It also gave her 71 overall World Cup victories, only 11 behind Stenmark’s record 82 victories.
“Superstar is really fun to ski,” Shiffrin said. “It’s good for both slalom and giant slalom and I think it’s really great for spectators because they get to see that entire face. If you’re standing at the bottom of the hill you can watch the Jumbotron, but you can also watch a really good section of the course — probably the most interesting section. So it’s kind of this perfect setup. And it’s always a pleasure to go back there and ski. The crowd is amazing.”
Now, with 74 World Cup victories (at press time), Shiffrin is within striking distance of both Stenmark and Lindsey Vonn (82). The 27-year-old native of Vail, Colo. is only the third skier in World Cup history to reach the 70-win mark.
“I won’t say it’s not meaningful,” Shiffrin said after her win at Killington last year. “It certainly is, but I’m trying not to focus on those numbers. The closer I get to these marks, it’s hard not to think about it, and want that. I think any person would want to have those records that are named, but everybody on the mountain today wants to win, and just wanting it is not enough to actually do it. Wanting it doesn’t do anything for you to actually do the work or ski well enough to make that happen.”
One year after the pandemic interrupted the annual event, Shiffrin made sure the thousands who showed up last November went home remembering the thrill of ski racing.
“The crowd here is so amazing and fair, pure ski racing lovers,” Shiffrin said. “That’s something we really missed and I don’t want to take it for granted again. Because not getting it last year reminded me of how lucky we are to have these World Cup races here and to be able to race in front of a crowd like this.”
For a second-straight year, Killington will be offering ticketing for the entire event, including general admission ($5 per day). Viewing areas are located all around the base of Superstar and adjacent to the race course, while two video boards will provide top-to-bottom race coverage. According to Killington, approximately 35 percent of the course will be visible from these areas.
A limited number of premier grandstand tickets, which provide one of the best vantage points with guaranteed access to the highest five rows of the grandstands, are available for $100 on Saturday, $90 Sunday. Regular grandstand seats — general admission for all rows except the top five — are $45 and $40, respectively.
A percentage from all ticket options will benefit the Killington World Cup Foundation, which supports athlete hospitality and provides grants to bolster winter sports infrastructure and access to winter sports throughout the region.
Tickets for the weekend are now available at www.killington.com/culture/world-cup-fis-ski-racing/tickets.
If you can’t make it to Killington, all races will be streamed and televised live on Outside+ and NBC, respectively.
Listen: Killington GM Mike Solimano on the New England Ski Journal Basecamp podcast: