Killington's Superstar trail is covered in snow and waiting for the World Cup women to arrive. (Reese Brown)
KILLINGTON, VT (Nov. 24, 2016) – The athletes are en route to #beastworldcup, and the excitement has been steadily building to what will be one of the biggest events of the season – the first Audi FIS Ski World Cup to make its way east in 25 years. One of New England's premier resorts, Killington Mountain, is primed to play host to the best skiers in the world this weekend, and Superstar will be the big stage.
The big question everyone is asking is who will be crowned “Superstar” in Killington? Will Olympic and World Champion Mikaela Shiffrin (Eagle-Vail, CO) stand upon the top step of the podium…twice? Will Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter redeem herself after skiing out in Levi and put up a show against Shiffrin in slalom on Sunday? Will Switzerland’s Lara Gut and Slalom Tokyo Drift go on their highly anticipated “Gondola and Chill” date? So much anticipation. Time will tell. One thing we can be sure of is that it’s an even playing field for these ladies, never having raced Superstar at Killington before. What can we expect?
Shiffrin races to a win in Levi earlier this season. (Getty Images/Agence Zoom-Christophe Pallot)
“I’ve skied Killington, but I haven’t actually skied Superstar,” noted Shiffrin. “I don’t know the hill. I’ve heard that it starts steep—it has some false flats so you think you’re in the clear but you’re not. It’s going to be tough, that’s what I know about it. I’m excited for the challenge of the hill. I’m excited to go to a new venue that nobody’s ever been to.” She’s not the only one who feels this way.
Two-time Olympian Resi Stiegler is equally excited to ski a new track. “It's so exciting and lively,” said Stiegler. “It’s a huge deal to have this many World Cups in the U.S. and to be in such a place where everyone is able to travel and attend and be this excited is awesome. It makes it a lot of fun to feel the energy and to have people this happy about it.” Be sure to keep an eye on Stiegler in the finish—her energy is palpable and she’ll be sure to bring the crowd to their feet.
Resi Stiegler skis to 16th at the Levi slalom. (Getty Images/Agence Zoom-Christophe Pallot)
Of course, Thanksgiving is on our American athletes’ minds and many of them are stoked to be able to spend time with their families this week, both on and off the hill. At just 17 years old—the youngest of the U.S. crew starting this weekend—Keely Cashman (Strawberry, CA) said, “This is an amazing opportunity. Racing a World Cup is something I’ve been working for my whole life—since I was five years old and started ski racing—it’s been there in the back of my mind. To be able to do it in the U.S. is just incredible. My family is going to be there, and I’m really excited for it.”
Cashman isn’t alone. Other fresh faces include Patricia Mangan (Derby, NY), Alice Merryweather (Hingham, MA) and Nina O’Brien (Edwards, CO)—who all have east coast ties. They’ve been skiing fast in training, and look forward to bringing the heat to the big stage.
As of Wednesday, the U.S. Ski Team had confirmed eight starters for Killington, featuring Shiffrin, who won her ninth straight—and 20th career—World Cup slalom recently in Levi. Shiffrin has a strong chance to medal in both disciplines in front of a hometown crowd. “I like the feeling of competing at home,” Shiffrin said. “I always have…even if there’s added pressure, sometimes I feel that—but I feel like the crowd is really cheering for me and the U.S. Just as long as you put your heart into it, the crowd is going to be psyched.”
Nina O'Brien (pictured racing in the 2016 U.S. Alpine Champs) will be making her World Cup debut in Killington.
Come cheer on the U.S. Ski Team. Free spectator viewing areas will be available this weekend at Killington for the giant slalom Saturday and slalom Sunday. NBC will cover both the women's giant slalom on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. ET and the women’s slalom on Sunday at 3:00 p.m. ET. You can also catch all the action streaming live on nbcsports.com
*denotes first World Cup start **denotes first World Cup GS
Patricia Mangan (pictured racing in the 2016 U.S. Alpine Champs) will be making her World Cup debut in Killington.
In the debut of the Audi FIS Ski World Cup to Killington Mountain Resort, the U.S. Ski Team has confirmed eight women to start in this weekend’s giant slalom and slalom events.
This is the first Audi FIS Ski World Cup on the east coast in 25 years.
Olympic and World Champion Mikaela Shiffrin (Eagle-Vail, CO) will be battling the reigning World Cup overall champion, Switzerland’s Lara Gut, for the top step on the podium in giant slalom, and reigning slalom title holder Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter in slalom.
Shiffrin placed second—behind Gut—in the World Cup giant slalom opener in Soelden, Austria, and first at the slalom opener in Levi, Finland.
Shiffrin won all five of the slalom races she competed in during the 2016 season, and she did it by a combined time of 10.56 seconds—a 2.11-second average margin of victory. She won her ninth straight and 20th career World Cup slalom recently in Levi.
Resi Stiegler (Jackson, WY) skied the eighth-fastest second run in Levi and grabbed 16th place. She’ll be gunning for a top five in Killington.
Lila Lapanja (Incline Village, NV) is one to watch this weekend—she skied a smokin'-fast two top splits in Levi that had her positioned for a top-20 finish before she made a mistake over the pitch.
Megan McJames (Park City, UT) will look to score points this weekend on home turf. In 2016, she won the NorAm Overall title, which qualifies her for her own start in every World Cup. She’ll be starting both giant slalom and slalom this weekend.
This will be the World Cup debut for three young and promising U.S. Ski Team athletes including Keely Cashman (Strawberry, CA), Patricia Mangan (Derby, NY) and Nina O’Brien (Edwards, CO). O'Brien was the surprise 2015 giant slalom national champion in Sugarloaf, Maine.
Alice Merryweather (Hingham, MA) will also make her World Cup tech debut. In 2016, Merryweather skied her World Cup speed debut with downhill in Altenmarkt, Austria.
At just 17 years old, the youngest of the crew, Cashman grabbed second place in slalom at the National Junior Championships at Copper Mountain, CO in 2016.
NBC will cover both the women's giant slalom on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. ET and the women’s slalom on Sunday at 3:00 p.m. ET. Live streaming of both races will be available on nbcsports.com.
Mikaela Shiffrin I’ve skied Killington, but I haven’t actually skied Superstar. I don’t know the hill. I’ve heard that it starts steep—it has some false flats so you think you’re in the clear but you’re not—it’s going to be tough, that’s what I know about it. I’m excited for the challenge of the hill. I’m excited to go to a new venue that nobody’s ever been to. I feel like it’s going to be an even playing field. I like the feeling of competing at home. I always have…even if there’s added pressure, sometimes I feel that—but I feel like the crowd is really cheering for me, and the U.S. Just as long as you put your heart into it, the crowd is going to be psyched. I haven’t raced back east in so long—that was a huge part of building my fundamentals in my skiing was racing the east coast—and it’s such a tight-knit community. The region that I raced in was northern Vermont—it’s tiny, and that’s cool. I think I’m going to get that feeling back from being there, and seeing my friends from Burke. It’s going to feel like racing at home again.
Resi Stiegler It's so exciting and lively. It’s a huge deal to have this many World Cups in the U.S. and to be in such a place where everyone is able to travel and attend and be this excited is awesome. It makes it a lot of fun to feel the energy and to have people this happy about it. I am excited for a new track as well. I think it's going to be a really good weekend!
Lila Lapanja I love skiing on unknown tracks especially when it's a new experience for everyone. The mystery gives me a sense of adventure and since there are no previous results or memories to latch onto, it feels like a fresh start to racing! Clean plate, even field. Can't wait.
Alice Merryweather It’s so exciting that I’m going to be racing Killington. It’s pretty surreal. I was hoping to be racing some tech World Cups this year, but I wasn’t really sure it would happen or not. The fact that it’s happening and I get to race at Killington in front of a home crowd—it’s just going to be really cool. It means so much to me to have a World Cup back in the east coast – to have a World Cup 20 minutes from where I went to high school. My whole family can come, my friends will be there—I think the atmosphere is going to be amazing and I’m really looking forward to it.
Keely Cashman Killington is an amazing opportunity. Racing a World Cup is something I’ve been working for my whole life—since I was five years old and started ski racing—it’s been there in the back of my mind. To be able to do it in the U.S. is just incredible. My family is going to be there and I’m really excited for it. I think it’s important to have teammates that can push each other to do better, and that you can talk about things with. We’re just really close—to be there with Nina and Trish and Alice is going to be really amazing.
Nina O’Brien I am so excited to make my World Cup debut at Killington. I think starting your first World Cup is probably something every ski racer dreams about and thinks about, so earning the spot in both GS and slalom is something I’m really excited and happy about. To have the race at home in the U.S., but in Killington on the east coast in Vermont where I went to high school at Burke is exciting. I’ve actually raced on the trail before—once when I was a U16—so I have some good memories there. I think it’s going to be pretty fun to share my first World Cup with my teammates. We have a really good team and we’re competitive, but we’re great friends and we really push each other in training. So I think to be able to do this together is going to bring us closer and lift the team up, and push us all to hopefully race in more World Cups together.
Patricia Mangan Obviously making my World Cup debut is something in and of itself—but to be able to do it in front of U.S. fans and on the east coast, where a lot of my friends and family can watch and see and take part in is something is super cool and I’m really excited for. There’s some phenomenal skiing on the east coast—definitely tricky, hard, technical hills—and I think it’s great that the east coast has finally gotten the World Cup back. I’m super glad there’s enough snow and I’m super happy I’ll be able to race it!
TV SCHEDULE Saturday, Nov. 26 – women’s giant slalom – NBC, 3:00 p.m. ET Sunday, Nov. 27 – women’s slalom – NBC, 3:00 p.m. ET