Killington, VT – The athletes are en route to Killington, 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. Killington Mountain is primed to play host to the best female 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, Colo.) 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? 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?
“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 alone in this feeling. 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.”
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, Calif.) 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 (Buffalo, N.Y.), Alice Merryweather (Hingham, Mass.) and Nina O’Brien (San Francisco, Calif.)—who all have East Coast ties. They’ve been skiing fast in training, and look forward to bringing the heat to the big stage.
The U.S. Ski Team has 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.”
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.
US SKI TEAM CONFIRMED KILLINGTON STARTERS
Keely Cashman (Strawberry, CA) – SL*
Lila Lapanja (Incline Village, NV) – SL
Patricia Mangan (Buffalo, NY) – GS*
Megan McJames (Park City, UT) – GS & SL
Alice Merryweather (Hingham, MA) – GS**
Nina O’Brien (San Francisco, CA) – GS & SL*
Mikaela Shiffrin (Eagle-Vail, CO) – GS & SL
Resi Stiegler (Jackson, WY) – GS & SL