Killington Mountain in Vermont hosted the Women’s Giant Slalom 2017 World Cup Ski Race. This was the mountain’s second year hosting the event, following a successful 2016 competition. After an unusually warm October, Killington did a great job making snow for November’s competition on the Superstar Trail. It was an excellent course with many turns throughout and an exciting finish line.
On Saturday, the weather was nice, but the conditions of the course were slightly unpredictable. At the start of the race, the sun cast a shadow on the lower half of the course, and as the day progressed, the sun started to set so that the trail was mostly in darkness. The racers’ performances may have been affected by the sunlight because as the trail became darker, the racers fell more frequently during their runs. To qualify for the second run, the racers were required to have a time under three minutes during their first run.
A common error made by the racers occurred when they started their turn too far below the upcoming gate. If they did not start their next turn before the upcoming gate, they fell too far below the next gate, which cost them seconds on the clock and added distance to their run. If they fell below the gate, then they had to use their momentum to move back up the hill and get around the gate.
A very supportive crowd showed up to the event. 13,000 were expected and an estimated 18,000 attended. Throughout the whole event, the crowd was lively and the commentator comical. When fans were asked which racer they were most excited to see, the most common response was Mikaela Shiffrin, the 22-year-old from Vail, Colorado. Shiffrin, the skilled skier, managed to start all her turns far enough up the trail from the gate that she never lost a second due to late turns, and that’s how she managed to come in second place.
Shiffrin, with her legs made of steel, dashed down the race course like a bullet straight out of a gun. When she reached the bottom of the slope, after crossing the finish line, she saw the brightly lit screen flash first place in bright green letters and bowed her head down to the snow in what appeared to be utter disbelief and shock. The fans all stood up and cheered for the American racer. The excitement for Shiffrin and the crowd only lasted seconds. Viktoria Rebensburg from Germany followed her down the hill, completing the course just 0.67 seconds faster than Shiffrin. Rebensburg actually won both runs of the Giant Slalom, which is not Shiffrin’s strongest race. Her strength lies in the slalom race, and fortunately, the next day she won first place in the World Cup Women’s Slalom at Killington.
She completely dominated in her signature event on Sunday, winning the Slalom by 1.67 seconds. This was Shiffrin’s 21st podium in the last 22 slalom events, and her 17th career slalom world cup victory. Her 95-year-old grandmother, Polly Condron, attended the race to cheer her on!