It seems like Killington’s first World Cup race, the first to come to Vermont since Stratton hosted in 1978, was a hit.
After picking up a Simon Pearce blown-glass trophy, France’s Tessa Worley sat hugging her Vermont Teddy Bear, a prize that went to all three of the podium finishers at today’s giant slalom race in the Audi FIS World Cup and talked about wanting to come back. Third place finisher Sofia Goggia, in her first World Cup podium finish, talked about what a fan she is of the American breakfast and Vermont maple syrup and second place finisher Nina Loeseth talked about how much she liked the snow. “It’s actually more like European snow, it is not the light snow that Colorado gets.”
For Loeseth, the difference between the first run and second run was “a whole different race.” Loeseth, who drew the first place start position had a clean course to run—a course that rutted up fast in the slight drizzle/snow that fell. In the second run, she started 30th. “The second run, I got a little scared as I stood at the top and I had to fight my demons.” Fog had rolled in. Giant ruts were slashed at many of the gates. The visibility was low. Still, she described the course as “a good mix between all my favorite hills” from Maribor Slovenia to the Courchevel in the French Alps. “I loved coming down the last pitch and seeing and hearing the crowds.”
By most estimates, more than 15,000 people funneled into the K1 base area at Killington. “We were hearing maybe 5,000 people would be there,” says Tessa Worley, the winner. “Instead there was three times that many. It was so crowded and so awesome, I could really feel the energy and I love racing in those conditions.”
For Tessa Worley, the winner, the tough course—one where 13 of the original 61 starters, and three of the second run competitors, either fell or skied out of gates—was a bonus. “I felt like I needed to fight more and I ski faster when I fight,” she said. Favorite Lara Gut was the first to earn a DNF on the first run, knocking her out of contention.
Mikaela Shiffrin, the World Cup leader coming into this event, ended up in fifth place overall after finishing 8th on the first run and 5th on the second. She holds onto first in the overall standings (having won the first slalom race event) with 225 points to Worley’s 140.
However, in the giant slalom World Cup rankings this knocks Shifrrin into second behind Worley. But tomorrow is another day and for Shiffrin, who has won the last nine slalom races she’s competed in, this is a chance to continue her streak. “I’m really focused on becoming a better all-around skier this year and going for the overall World Cup globe,” she said Friday night, before the race.
As O.A.R. began to set up in the base area to play a free concert to a crowd that barely thinned snow began to fall, boding well for tomorrow’s slalom race.
Mike Solimano, president of Killington was all smiles. He’d been handing out programs all morning. “This is all perfect,” he said. “The weather is perfect, the crowds are perfect. It’s a great day.”