“The course was perfect,” Abi Jewett said, still out of breath from her first World Cup run ever. The 18-year-old graduate of the Green Mountain Valley School had forerun this course at last year’s Killington World Cup. She grew up skiing at the Middlebury Snow Bowl, near her home in Ripton, Vermont. Ice and cold were no stranger.
But the day was warm and sunny. Bands were playing in the festival village and crowds cheered from two packed grandstands and the VIP tent. Olympic greats Steve and Phil Mahre were in the crowd, as was Tamara McKinney (whose daughter races for University of Vermont) and legend Cindy Nelson. Olympic downhiller Doug Lewis, who also grew up skiing Middlebury Snow Bowl and Sugarbush was announcing the races for NBC.
“I was a little nervous and skied conservatively,” Jewett said after the run. She started 61st and finished 61st out of the field of 66 women her to race giant slalom
Mikaela Shiffrin had started first. “She told us the course was great and to really attack,” Jewett said. Shiffrin herself had looked almost relaxed as she skied the giant slalom. Too relaxed. “She took two gates really wide in the bottom section,” noted former World Cup skier Pam Fletcher who was watching from the bottom. Shiffrin watched from the bottom as first Stephanie Brunner, the next up in the gate, then the next few racers posted better times. Shiffrin fell to sixth place, 0.67 seconds behind Norwegian Ragnhild Mowinckel. “That’s hardly anything,” said Fletcher. “Just watch, she’ll make it back.”
Extreme skier and Killington ambassador Dan Egan was watching the races. “They make it look easy,” he said. “But that top pitch is steep. I can’t freeski that run in the time it takes them to make it down through the gates,” he said. Shiffrin’s manager, Killian Albrecht was standing nearby “They’re hitting 40 to 45 miles per hour coming down,” he estimates.
Shiffrin was the only American to start in the top 30. But in the second half of the line-up it looked like a Dartmouth College team reunion. Foreste Peterson (Dartmouth, 2018) started 49.th “I graduated last year but have been really lucky to have been picked up as part of Team X,” she said the day before the race. Privately funded, Team X has selected a handful of athletes who might not otherwise have coaching or make the national team for funding, coaching and support. Nina O’Brien, who trained at Burke Mountain Academy. O’Brien has won the U.S. Alpine Championships in slalom, giant slalom and super g) will be at Dartmout in the spring and Abi Jewett (Green Mountain Valley School) will start there too, next spring.
“I think Dartmouth’s flexible schedule and its great academics have made it pretty attractive for ski racer,” said U.S. Ski and Snowboard president Tiger Shaw, who grew up in Stowe and also went to Dartmouth.
Considering that Shiffrin went to Burke Mountain Academy and Patricia Mangan, the other member of the team, is at University of Vermont, the entire U.S. Team on the giant slalom course had trained in Vermont and New England.
However, only Shiffrin was able to secure a top 30 spot, earning her another run this afternoon and a chance at the podium. Results below:
Cover image: Abi Jewett at 2018 World Cup in Killington. Photo by Brooks CurranC51B - Start List Run 3