Abi Jewett, 18, of Ripton, Vermont, only started ski racing 8 years ago. Tomorrow she starts in her first World Cup race. Abi grew up skiing at the Middlebury Snow Bowl and then went to the Green Mountain Valley School in Waitsfield. Her father, Willem Jewett is an accomplished bike racer and a former legislator for Addison County. Last summer, Abi was nominated to the U.S. Ski Team, bypassing the development team and going right to the C Team. She placed well enough in the team time trials to qualify to start at Killington, which will be her debut on the World Cup Circuit. We caught up with her before her big race. See our longer story on Abi here.
So how excited are you for your first World Cup giant slalom tomorrow?
Super excited! It was something that I had been really looking forward to trying to qualify for. It really means so much for me that I can do my first World Cup at home in Vermont.
You just made the U.S. Team C Team. When did you find out you were racing here?
To make the World Cup you had to do time trials at Copper Mountain where the team trains. This was weird because you are competing against your friends and teammates. But you know that whatever happens, you’re going to be happy for your teammates—or excited for yourself. But it was stressful and a lot more pressure than a race. We had to wait until the coaches reviewed the times and I found out at our team meeting the next day. The first two women already had spots and I was the third so I made it. I texted my family… everyone is really excited and supportive. I already had plans to come home for Thanksgiving so I would’ve watched my teammates either way.
How well do you know the course?
I foreran the Killington GS course last year, so I know what it’s like. I really like the hill—it’s got two pretty awesome pitches and then moderate terrain in middle. Last year the snow was amazing. They put so much work into the race course at Killington and I think it’s one of the better venues. And I definitely think that my teammates look forward to racing in Vermont—it’s one of the only races we have in the U.S. and the crowd is always really supportive and wild.
You skied it today. How’s the snow this year.
They’ve been working on it all week and we’ve been training on the trail today. I think surface is going really awesome. That will be important for me because I’ll be starting at the back of race.
Are you nervous?
It’s the first race of the season—and my first World Cup—so you always feel a little weird the first time. But I’m really excited to just kind of be out there and go for it. I’ll be starting in back of pack and it’s really important to just give it your all. It’s tough to break into the top 30 and earn a second run. So I’ll really have to get after it. If I got a second run that would be unbelievably cool, but I’m just excited to experience it all and enjoy it.
So how have you been training?
We were at training camp at Copper Mountain where the U.S. Ski Team congregates. Since we’ve been here in Killington we’ve spent the last few days inspecting, warming up and visualizing the course. We’ve also been taking care of equipment.
Did you ever think when you were growing up skiing the Allen trail at the Middlebury Snow Bowl that you’d be racing here in the World Cup?
Not really — I didn’t even start ski racing until I was 10, which was late. The first year it was exciting but the second year, I was like ‘Wow! This is really what I want to do.’ But I’ve learned so much at the Green Mountain Valley School. It’s just a really supportive environment, whether you are winning or not and it’s turned out some amazing skiers.
What’s it like to ski and train with Mikaela Shiffrin?
I really admire Mikaela’s consistency. I’ admire her work ethic and focus. We have the same, really methodical approach to ski racing
Where do you get your competitive spirit?
Definitely, from my dad. He’s taught me to just keep pushing on. There are times we’ve been biking together, he just pushes on and on. And he still beats me biking.