Waxing on the World Cup

How could you be a skier in the East and not come to Killington for the World Cup?

Remember that first World Cup, back in 2016, when it was OK to hang out with thousands of other people? Not that anyone expected thousands to flock to Killington that year. It was the first alpine World Cup held in the Northeast since the days when Alberto Tomba, the Italian Stallion, ruled sports headlines. So who knew who might show up? It was, after all, Thanksgiving weekend.

Would the women’s alpine World Cup races attract as meager a crowd as the Dew Tour events held at Bear Mountain back in the aughts, when a few drunk hardy fans booted up the sides of the superpipe, looked over the rim and said, “Whoa,” before stumbling back a step or two? Or would the World Cup attract a Bear Mountain Mogul Challenge-type crowd—more about the partying than the competition? 

Little did we know that more than 30,000 fans would make the pilgrimage to Killington that year (and for the next four), drawn by the chance to see Mikaela Shiffrin and her ilk ply their craft on Superstar and to soak in the vibe. That many people had not gathered in one place in the Green Mountain State since Phish played down the road from Vermont’s largest landfill in 2004. 

I still remember seeing a silver Chevy Cruze parked on the steep hillside below the Upper Snowshed parking lot at that first Killington World Cup. The sedan sat precariously beside a Jeep Wrangler, a Lexus SUV and a couple of Subarus. At least those car owners found parking closer to the action than the poor souls who had to trudge up Killington Road from the Lookout.

And remember the lines for the two rows of porta-loos?

Credit to Killington for figuring out crowd management. World Cup v. 2 brought even more people to The Beast but shorter lines and less mud. How could you be a skier in the East and NOT come to Killington for the World Cup? For the next three years, I coveted my VIP parking pass as if it were a winning lotto ticket.

It wasn’t just us fans who loved the World Cup at Killington. The ski racers loved it, too. In Europe, women’s skiing—really, women’s anything—is still considered a sideshow, with a few thousand fans showing up for their races (as opposed to the men’s World Cup that brings out the hordes). At Killington, the women’s races were the main event. And the crowd cheered for everyone, from the Croatians to the Americans to Captain America roaming the stands.

It was the crowd, Mikaela once said, that carried her down the hill—and to four slalom wins in a row on Superstar.

Rumor has it that the U.S. men’s alpine team was jealous. They have the Birds of Prey World Cup in Beaver Creek, Colorado. But only a few thousand fans battle traffic on I-70 from Denver up to the Vail Valley, bus it to the Beav’s base area from parking lots below and then hike halfway up the mountain to the racecourse. At Killington, you can park your car, hop on a bus, and you’re there. For free! Hell, if you are lucky enough to score parking at Snowshed or Ramshead—or a VIP pass for the KBL lots—you can almost watch from your car.

Of course, that was all in the Before Times. World Cups in North America were canceled last season due to the fu#$%& pandemic, and uncertainty remains. Not that gathering that many people in one space was exactly healthy, even back then. One year, right after the Killington World Cup, my daughter came down with the first diagnosed case of the flu in Rutland County. But catching the flu...those were the good ol’ days, right?

Despite the Covid-19 risks, the World Cup tour was actually held in Europe last winter, proving that the show could go on—safely. And the show will return to Killington once again this year. Hooray!

So grab your vaccination card or print out your negative Covid test result, and head up to Killington (anti-vaxers, you’ll have to watch from home). I’m going to wear a mask, too. Even if it muffles my cheering.







Peggy Shinn is an eighth-generation Vermonter, writer for TeamUSA.org and recent inductee into the Vermont Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame. Her column “Vermontness” will be published regularly throughout the year. If you like it, please let her know. Just don’t look too lustfully at her World Cup VIP parking pass.

Peggy Shinn is an eighth-generation Vermonter, writer for TeamUSA.org and recent inductee into the Vermont Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame. Her column “Vermontness” will be published regularly throughout the year. If you like it, please let her know. Just don’t look too lustfully at her World Cup VIP parking pass.
 

The Beast
Quintessential Killington
Roots Riding

One of snowboarding’s cultural icons and master of style, Danny Davis is all about bringing snowboarding to the people. His signature Woodward Peace Parks, including one at Killington, have opened up a whole new world for riders of all ages and abilities.

Read on
Mountain Forecasting

Mountain forecasting is its own beast. In this interview with Chief Meteorologist Mallory Brooke, we learn that she knows that beast better than anyone.

Read on
Builders of the Beast

The builders of the East's longest ski season always rise to the challenge. In this collection of profiles, we go behind the scenes with three of Killington’s most valuable players.

Read on
Deep Days

The pursuit of powder and transcendent turns alters the trajectory of people’s lives. Why? Immerse yourself in this interactive feature and find out.

Read on
Home Mountain Advantage

After last year’s COVID-driven cancellation of the World Cup, the Killington community is ready for its triumphant return. Plus: racers with Vermont roots including Mikaela Shiffrin, Nina O’Brien, and Paula Moltzan speak to the excitement of returning home.

Read on
Slippery Slopes

Imagine an eerily quiet, cold, crystalline world high in the mountains of Vermont, where everything—everything—is encased in two inches of glassy, impenetrable ice. We take you there in this multimedia feature story, and explore an otherworldly landscape witnessed only by a frozen few. Filmed and photographed on location at Killington Resort.

Read on
First Tracks

NCAA athletes Nina O’Brien and Paula Moltzan are the only skiers - besides Mikaela Shiffrin - to score points at the Killington Women's World Cup. Here, they talk about balancing their education with ski racing, and why there’s nothing quite like skiing in front of the home crowd.

Read on
Park Etiquette

Not all rules are made to be broken. In this animated feature story we dive into the do’s and don’ts of skiing and riding in our Woodward Mountain Park.

Read on
Mogul Queens

Aspiring olympic skier Hannah Soar and olympic gold medal winner Donna Weinbrecht are cut from the same cloth - or moguls, as it were. This rich media feature explores the passion that drives them both to greatness, while also reflecting on the mountain where it all began.

Read on
Culture
Characters & Craft Vermont
Snow Slang

Who knew there were so many words for snow? Here, writer Tyler Cohen takes a deep dive into the snow slang lexicon.

Read on
Quintessential Character

Pico may lack bourgeois base lodges and six-pack lifts, but it’s as rich in culture and community as any mountain destination in New England. Here, we explore the character that defines the Pico experience through a multimedia lens.

Read on
Vermontness
Peggy Shinn, Unfiltered
The Evolution of Killington’s Mountain Biking Revolution

Mountain biking has never been more fun.

Read on
Fling Into Spring

Vermontress Peggy Shinn takes us to her happiest place: springtime at Killington.

Read on
What To Do On Valentine’s Day, Or More To The Point: How To Get More ________.

Love is in the air … and in the gondola. Liven up your Valentine’s Day with Peggy Shinn’s primer on mountain love.

Read on
New Year’s Res-ski-lutions

Some New Year’s resolutions are doomed before the new year even begins. But not this one….

Read on
How to Be a Bada$$ Santa

Columnist Peggy Shinn’s guide to giving the gift of stoke this holiday season.

Read on
Waxing on the World Cup

4241’ columnist Peggy Shinn knows what it takes to win the Killington World Cup - as a spectator and an athlete.

Read on
Takeaways From Last Season

Longtime 4241’ writer and contributor Peggy Shinn is a ninth-generation Vermonter and a member of the Vermont Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame. This is the debut of her column, “Vermontness.”

Read on