IT’S ALL DOWNHILL
Matt Pepin/Globe Staff
Note: This story originally appeared as part of the Globe’s “It’s All Downhill” skiing and snowboarding newsletter. Sign up here to receive it by email every Friday.
It was an interesting weekend at Killington, to say the least, when the World Cup came to town. You may have read about the women’s slalom and giant slalom races, and probably heard about the large and enthusiastic crowds as well, so no need to recap that here. Suffice it to say the energy level both on and off the slopes was cranked up to full blast.
Here are a few other observations as the White Circus invaded New England for the first time in 25 years:
■ World Cup racing’s format is fantastic. Skiers are seeded for the first run of slalom and GS events based on who is likely to be fastest, then the field is cut to the top 30 and flipped, so the fastest go last to decide who wins in the second run. The drama builds with every run. NBC’s better strategy might be to invent “The White Zone” channel and only show the last 10 runs in any event.
■ I was surprised nations don’t sell their ski team apparel in a more obvious way. The US ski team had an exhibit and sold logo shirts, hats, and more, but I thought the other nations would do likewise, similar to how NASCAR teams set up pop-up shops at races.
■ Killington’s slogan “We make winter” is really true. Riding the Snowdon Mountain triple early on Sunday morning, it felt like January, with trees covered in snow and white everywhere. The surrounding landscape was brown.
■ One quibble about the event was the crowd control at the finish area. It was such tight quarters with all the temporary structures that it created a very difficult situation with crowds of spectators traveling in three directions all converging behind the finish area. More ways to exit the venue would have been better.
■ There are an awful lot of children in ski racing programs in Vermont. Before the racing started, an opening parade similar to the parade of nations at the Olympics featured hundreds of them.
■ My single best discovery over the weekend? Lawson’s Finest Liquids of Warren, Vermont, makes some seriously great beer. Especially “Sip of Sunshine.”
SO, DO IT AGAIN NEXT YEAR? Officials couldn’t say if the World Cup would return to Killington next year. They were obviously pleased with how it all went, but there are a lot of factors in doing it again. Lisa Lynn of Vermont Ski + Ride magazine has a good look at all the variables. Meanwhile, the USSA itself reports that officials from the USSA, FIS, and Killington are expected to discuss a return visit and that next season’s World Cup schedule will be set in May.
THE NEXT MIKAELA? The US ski team made it clear it was hoping to inspire the next Mikaela Shiffrin by exposing World Cup racing to thousands of young skiers on the East Coast. Will another elite-level racer come from Vermont? Gabbi Hall of SkiRacing.com explored the possibilities. Meanwhile if you want to train like Mikaela, Iseult Devlin of NorthJersey.com has all the details from Shiffrin’s trainer, Jeff Lackie.
KIND OF A BIG DEAL: In Europe, where ski racing is a considerably bigger attraction than in the US, the stars have it pretty good. You need look no further than Lara Gut, the Swiss World Cup champ shown below, who not only has knit hats featuring her name on them, but she gets interviewed at some length by a horde of reporters after failing to finish her one and only run in the GS Saturday.
FIRST TRACKS: As mentioned, I was able to ski a little at Killington, specifically three runs Sunday morning before the competition, and have been asked about the conditions many times, so here they are: One top-to-bottom run on Great Northern was groomer heaven. The next, on Bunny Buster, was like skiing on the aftermath of a Titleist factory explosion - golf balls galore. The final run, on Mouse Run, was the same groomer heaven as the first.
WORTH WATCHING: ESPN has released the fourth edition of its Real Snow Backcountry series, which is all about backcountry snowboarding. Six parts are now available on the network’s X Games website.
ALSO WORTH WATCHING: Ski The East’s “Notion Ep. 1” was released this week to kick off a documentary series that tracks a group of ski bums from New England who converted an old school bus into their personal mystery machine to chase good times and good tracks across North America. Very well done, and I’m looking forward to Episode 2.
NAME WATERVILLE’S NEW TRAILS: New Hampshire’s Waterville Valley launched a contest to name the trails on its new Green Peak area. The area is seeking name submissions that tell the stories of Waterville, in keeping with the area’s convention of trail names having a story behind them, such as Bobby’s Run named for Bobby Kennedy and Palmer’s Way after a popular ski patroller. Details and more info are on Waterville’s website.
GOOD DEALS GALORE: The Globe’s Eric Wilbur has an excellent roundup of ways you can save on lift tickets, from discount cards to resort-by-resort bargains.
WHERE EXPERTS SKI: Mad River Glen is the only East Coast ski area to make Liftopia’s list of “7 Ski Resorts Where Expert Skiers and Snowboarders Go.” It would be interesting to see a similar list for just New England.
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