It’s been quite some time since Killington Mountain Resort has been able to welcome throngs of spectators to its base in Vermont.
That, mercifully, changes this month.
Killington will host its first event since pandemic restrictions were lifted in Vermont later this month when it hosts the Red Bull Raw Slalom, a head-to-head mountain bike race down a dual-slalom course. The July 17 race will also be Red Bull’s first mountain bike event in almost two years.
“This is going to be a fun one,” said professional mountain biker and New Hampshire native Aaron Chase, who was the brainchild behind the design of the dual-slalom course.
The Raw Slalom is a new take on a growing discipline within mountain biking, providng head-to-head action and excitement for both the riders and spectators. This race will bring the discipline to the East Coast, while fully embracing the raw nature of Northeast terrain — minimal grooming, unique features, and technicality that guarantees a truly challenging race.
“It’s all about the experience that the riders are going to have,” Chase said. “It’s going to have that competitive side, but the course is going to be so fun and playful that you’re going to be wrapped up in the fun more so than the actual race experience itself.”
Chase has been one of the leading names in mountain biking for more than two decades. A professional downhill racer until 2003, the Belmont, N.H. native transitioned to freeride, becoming one of the only professionals promoting the full spectrum of mountain biking. That experience paid dividends when designing the Raw Slalom course, tapping into his imagination to create something original.
“What makes this track unique is it’s two separate, identical tracks that you race head-to-head down, all the way to the finish line,” he said. “The best way to compare yourself is to strengths and weaknesses of the next rider. It’s a tight, but interesting race the whole way down.”
Chase, who is sponsored by Red Bull, GoPro, and Commencal Bicycles, figures the race will encompass 10 turns over 25 seconds, essentially an all-out sprint on a bike. “The ultimate bike-handler is going to win this race,” he said.
“I wanted to get rid of the berms, which kind of are the great equalizers, and rough up the surface so that you’re talking a lot more about actual tire control, race control, and bike riding control more so than horsepower, starts out of the gate, or anything like that.”
Chase made sure to add a playful feel to the course with the addition of some sod chips. Instead of gates, the event will utilize trees, bushes and shrubs, giving it a bit more of an “au naturale” feel.
Chase also designed a similar course at Killington in 2018, located at the mountain’s Stash ski and snowboard park.
“I’ve always had my foot in course and stunt design,” he said. “I’m no newbie to building courses or stunts. It’s just something that I can stand in front of and see just as plain as day in front of my eyes. I know what I like to ride and I know what’s fun.”
There won’t be a large cash purse or points on the line, rather just the pull of gathering together with a Killington mountain bike community that has been kept on the sidelines for more than a year thanks to COVID-19 restrictions.
“There’s such a big bike community there that everyone is just going to be pumped to get back together again and race,” Chase said. “It’s a definite sigh of relief. I think a lot of people are going to come out of the woodwork for this to kind of all get back together again.
“It’s kind of unprecedented, just thinking about coming back after such a break in action sports or gatherings altogether. It’s just weird. That’s been my last 20 years, going to every event possible. So seeing them all shut off, it’s like part of your life shuts off.”
Check out www.redbull.com/us-en/events/red-bull-raw-slalom for more information.