Killington World Cup Giant Slalom Canceled
by Peggy Shinn
Mikaela Shiffrin skis the first run of the women's giant slalom before cancellation at the FIS Ski World Cup on Nov. 27, 2021 in Killington, Vermont.
KILLINGTON, Vt. — American ski fans have waited two years for the FIS Alpine World Cup to return to Killington. Now they will have to wait another day.
Snow and wind gusts that limited visibility caused race officials to cancel the women’s world cup giant slalom today part way through the race. When they made the call, only nine racers had taken their first runs.
One of those racers was U.S. alpine phenom Mikaela Shiffrin. Unable to see much as she flew down the course — already shortened due to the gusty winds — Shiffrin was sitting uncharacteristically in last place about 1.3 seconds out of first when the race was interrupted, then canceled.
Tessa Worley from France, who won the inaugural Killington women’s GS in 2016, was sitting in the lead, followed by Italy’s Sofia Goggia, and Shiffrin’s rival Petra Vlhova from Slovenia in third when the race was halted.
But Shiffrin, a favorite to win both the GS and slalom at Killington, did not blame the weather. Instead, the reigning Olympic GS champion said lack of training led to her slower first run. After winning the season-opening world cup giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, back in October, Shiffrin had to take off several weeks to rest a sore back.
She did not train giant slalom until two days ago, when she took four training runs at Killington. Rain and snow canceled Friday’s training.
“I'm a bit disappointed in myself,” Shiffrin admitted before learning that the race was canceled. “But I also try to have realistic expectations and also try to be hopeful that I can post something a little bit better for the second run.”
Shiffrin was also trying “to think back a month ago and figure out what it is I have to focus on for the second run to bring out the better skiing with better intensity and also bring on the speed because it's been a little while since I felt that.”
Her back is “quite good.” She was sore after her four training runs on Thursday but “normal sore.”
While Shiffrin was able to take one run in front of the famous Killington crowd — which roars for every skier — the four other American women on the start list were not so lucky, including Nina O’Brien and Paula Moltzan, who both scored their first world cup points at Killington races in previous years.
It’s especially disappointing for the American ski racers who only get these two races on home snow. And the weather conditions did not bother them. In fact, Moltzan had joked with her teammates at the world cup slalom in Levi, Finland, last weekend that the U.S. women just needed some bad weather to have an advantage over their European competitors.
“It's a real advantage when the weather is bad because as a college racer in the East, I saw a lot of bad weather and a lot of bad race days,” said Moltzan, who raced for the University of Vermont in 2017 and 2018. “I feel grateful to have those hours in bad conditions. To see that it's snowing, it's not that ideal for a lot of people, but it doesn't faze me too much.”
Allie Resnick was also on the Killington GS start list. A Dartmouth freshman, Resnick earned a Killington start by finishing on the podium in two NorAm races earlier in the week. Rather than heading to Europe for Europa Cup races, the Vail, Colorado, resident made a stop in Vermont.
Shiffrin is as excited to see her teammates race as the rest of the crowd at Killington. Leading up to the Soelden GS and the Levi slaloms, the U.S. women were clocking fastest times in training runs.
“I was really excited going into the first race of the season knowing like, oh my gosh, the fastest skiers in the world are on my team,” said Shiffrin in the pre-event press conference. “That's not a feeling I've ever had before. I mean, we've had very fast racers with a lot of pace who had a lot of potential, but it's never been this consistently.”
The team will have to wait until tomorrow to show their speed and consistency to the home fans.
Despite her disappointing GS run, Shiffrin is still thrilled to be racing at Killington again. The Vermont resort has hosted the women’s world cup since 2016, and since then, over 30,000 have showed up annually to cheer on the world cup skiers. But the Covid-19 pandemic caused organizers to cancel the event in 2020.
“This is my favorite stop on the tour,” Shiffrin said. “I love this crowd. I love to be here. It feels like home.”
An award-winning freelance writer based in Vermont, Peggy Shinn has covered six Olympic Games. She has contributed to TeamUSA.org since its inception in 2008.