The Killington Cup hasn’t just had a successful run over the past three years. It has become a must-see event, bringing record crowds to the base of Superstar, where World Cup champion Mikaela Shiffrin looks to extend her success during the Audi FIS Ski World Cup taking place at Killington Mountain Resort over Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 30-Dec. 1).
In fact, Killington’s spot on the World Cup calendar has proven to become such a success that the resort has entered into a two-year agreement with the International Ski Federation to host the event through 2020.
“Establishing another multiyear World Cup schedule here at Killington is an incredible opportunity for the resort and the surrounding community,” Killington president and general manager Mike Solimano said.
The Killington Cup, which features women’s giant slalom and slalom races, welcomed some 39,000 fans to the resort in 2018, a record crowd for ski racing in the United States (5,500 for Friday night’s opening ceremonies, 18,500 for Saturday’s giant slalom and 15,000 for Sunday’s slalom). It’s been a long-running appetite, after all. The 2016 Killington Cup was the first World Cup event in the eastern U.S. in 25 years (1991, Waterville Valley), and the first in Vermont since 1978 at Stratton.
“Killington Resort and the fans have proved once again that the East can successfully host world-class global ski racing events,” Killington Cup chair Herwig Demschar said.
U.S. Ski Team member Shiffrin, whose roots in the Green Mountain State go back to her days at Burke Mountain Academy, has emerged victorious in slalom each of the past three years.
“The Killington Cup has long been a highlight of mine on the World Cup tour the last three seasons,” said Shiffrin, who is seeking her fourth straight overall World Cup title in 2019-20. “To get that hat trick slalom victory in front of thousands of screaming fans at home is something I will never, ever forget. I’m looking forward to once again competing on home soil.”
Shiffrin’s dominant 2018 season — a record 17 wins in a single World Cup campaign — firmly placed her name among the greatest professional skiers ever. That leaves World Cup competitors such as Petra Vlhova, Wendy Holdener and Frida Hansdotter with the lofty challenge of keeping pace this winter, particularly in the Shiffrin-friendly environment of Killington.
“I continue to be blown away by the sheer size of the crowds, and their enthusiasm leads me to believe that we’ll continue to see large numbers of spectators to watch the fastest female ski racers in the world take on the Superstar trail,” Solimano said.
While a select number of tickets went on sale for select viewing areas back in August, the Killington Cup is, indeed, free and open to the public. There is plenty of free access viewing space, with standing-room access near the base of the Superstar trail and along the run with two jumbo screens for viewing the full race course. Even for those choosing to take some runs in between competitors, there’s plenty of standing space to grab last-minute at the base of the trail.
As it did last year, when Guster, Michael Franti and KT Tunstall were among the guests, Killington has again put together a serious slate of musical acts, including DJ Logic and Vermont products Twiddle and Grace Potter. Also performing will be Recycled Percussion, an interactive band from New Hampshire, that recently placed third on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.” Additional entertainment includes the energetic World Cup Festival Village, fireworks, parades and a Friday night bib draw featuring top athletes.
In addition to a number of premier seating options still on sale, Killington visitors can purchase preferred parking at either the Vale parking lots or along Killington Mountain Road in between Vale Road and the K-1 Lodge. Parking will be available free of charge from other resort parking lots with complimentary shuttle service to the event. Despite the mass of spectators, the entire operation has managed to run extremely smoothly over the past three years.
“The bar has been set higher with each passing year of the World Cup at ‘The Beast of the East,’ ” Demschar said, “and the rest of the ski racing world is taking notice.”