KILLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Excitement is building as the World Cup makes its return to Killington for two days of competition starting with the giant slalom Saturday morning.
The races last fall, the first world cup events held in the Eastern United States in a quarter century, were a resounding success, drawing around 30 thousand fans over the two days of competition. Off that success, the International Ski Federation has committed to hosting World Cup races at Killington both this year and next.
"We're gung ho to come back here time and time and time again," said US Ski and Snowboard President ,and Vermont native Tiger Shaw. "It's an amazing opportunity to showcase the Northeast too. There isn't anything more that can be done, Killington has done it. There isn't a more extraordinary venue this time of year. Find any place in the World that's capable of doing what they're able to do here the day after Thanksgiving, two days after Thanksgiving. It's tried and proven, it's amazing, it's extraordinary. I'm from Vermont, so I love this. I always want to come back to Vermont."
The stars of the weekend are the world class skiers who will be competing over two days. Several of them met the media Friday evening, including the favorite this weekend, Mikaela Shiffrin, and current UVM ski standout Paula Moltzan.
Moltzan, along with fellow UVM SkiCat Laurence St. Germain, have qualified to compete in the slalom race on Sunday. Moltzan, a sophomore at Vermont, is the reigning NCAA slalom champion.
"I know there's a lot of surrounding support for me and it's pretty special to have people you ride up the chairlift with just like 'Go Cats go,' which is just what everyone says to a Catamount so it's pretty exciting and refreshing to have new blood be representing," said Moltzan.
Shiffrin is the favorite and the clear fan favorite. Last year at Killington, the Burke Mountain Academy alum finished fifth in the giant slalom and won the slalom and wound up winning her first overall World Cup title at season's end. In the first two events of this season, Shiffrin has a fifth in a GS and second in a slalom at stops in Europe, so she's ready to get back on top of the podium this weekend.
"I'm really really hoping to win both the GS tomorrow and the slalom on Sunday," said Shiffrin. "I'm hoping to show some of my best skiing. Showing what I can do, what I feel like I'm capable of and sharing that with the crowd, because really, I feel like the East Coast ski racing fans are the most loyal, die-hard ever. And this is a kind of place where I feel like I can actually make a connection with the crowd."
The Giant Slalom is first up, Saturday's first run starting at 10 a.m. and the second run at 1 p.m.. On Sunday, it's the same schedule, first run at 10, second run at 1. If you're planning on coming either day, come early. As many as 20,000 fans are expected for Saturday's Giant Slalom competition.