The best skiers in the world came to the East coast of the United States and the fans of the sport came out in force. As one of the accredited media photographing the event, it was one of the greatest sporting experiences I have had. And I have had many.
None of us knew what to expect when the AUDI FIS Ski World Cup made their decision to return to Vermont after a 40-year absence. The last time the world came to Vermont was 1978 when Stratton hosted an event. The last time they came to the East coast of America was Waterville Valley, New Hampshire, in 1991. Killington, known as the Beast of the East, spent over a month preparing the snow on Superstar to host the Women’s Giant Slalom and Slalom on November 27th and 28th. The mountain delivered.
But the East coast fans were there for hometown favorite Mikaela Shiffrin who finished a disappointing fifth overall in the Giant Slalom. With over 16,000 fans in attendance, the athletes were amazed at the volume of the crowd, hearing them cheer at the top of the race course in the starting gate. They had never experienced anything like it. And the World Cup officials have taken notice.
My daughter was one of those fans. Both race days, she and her ski race team members arrived at the mountain at 6:30am to claim spaces at the finish line. Mikaela Shiffrin is the ultimate East Coast ski racer. Sunday’s Slalom event was Mikaela’s chance to prove her dominance in the discipline. And she came through. My daughter has been ski racing in Massachusetts for most of her life, and Mikaela Shiffrin proved why she is the greatest athlete for young girls to emulate.