“Yesterday I was terrified. Today, the course was great,” said American Resi Stiegler after her first run today. On Instagram, she was more explicit: “H#ly sh#t! This si ski racing in America right now! It is incredible. There are not enough thank yous I can say to fully show the appreciation for this weekend,” she posted minutes later on her Instagram account.
It was her first time skiing at Killington and the up-and-coming U.S. Ski Teamer placed 16th behind a hotly contested field. Only the top 30 racers move on to the second run and after the final times were tallied there were two ties, one for 14th and one for 30th. In the end, 31 will move forward.
The first racer on the course, Mikaela Shiffrin made it look easy, snaking down the tight and steep last section of the Superstar course like water and finishing in 43:30. Shiffrin waited, watching up the hill to see if anyone would come close. Seventh place starter Veronika Velez Zuzulova came the closest, with a finish of 43:95, followed by Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener at 44:24. Nina Loeseth, who took second in yesterday’s GS race, was fourth. While several of the racers bested Shiffrin’s time on the top half of the course, the last pitch was where the rubber met the road, so to speak. No one could equal Shiffrin’s smooth flow through the last tight, straight gates.
After warm temperatures and a light rain set ruts and soft spots in the course yesterday, Killington watered and salted the course. “It firmed up on the surface but was still soft underneath,” said U.S. Ski Team’s event manager Collum Clark. “But then the wind came in, it got colder and the surface set up perfectly.” Visibility was much improved.
For Laurence St. Germain, it was a great day. A junior at the University of Vermont from Mont St. Anne, QC, St. Germain skis at both the NCAA level and for the Canadian World Cup team. “I’ve had a chance to train a few times with Mikaela Shiffrin and it’s fantastic just to be on the circuit and able to watch her. She is so stable and quiet. That’s what I’m trying to be like.” St. Germain didn’t qualify for a second run but, as she noted, that might be just as well: “I have seven final exams I have to study for this week,” the computer science major noted. And yes, training for her next World Cup slalom race.
Opening photo: Resi Stiegler on course. Photo by Brooks Curran