VAL D’ISERE, France (Dec. 9, 2016) – It’s like Groundhog Day here in Val d’Isere, only we’re on the other side of Olympic Avenue this weekend, skiing on the relentless Stade Olympique de Bellevarde. Welcome to the real “Criterium de la Premiere Niege.” Last week was just a tease to the big event this weekend and the French are sure to once again put on a show for the home crowd.
LAKE LOUISE, Canada (Dec. 4, 2016) – Jackie Wiles (Aurora, OR) led four American women into the top 20 with a career-best 10th-place finish in the first super G of the season at Audi FIS Ski World Cup.
“I am so thrilled,” said Wiles. “I had high expectations for the downhill and fell short. I had no expectations for today, but I knew that you had charge it hard, and that’s what I do best. So I just gave it my all and I’m very happy.”
Headlights pierced the morning fog that had settled into the valleys around the Green Mountains in central Vermont as thousands of cars twisted and turned en route to the mountain. In the pre-dawn darkness, nearly a thousand kids and their chaperones made their way to the Killington Ski Club building as clouds obscured the sun - nearly two dozen ski clubs gathering together. This was a special day for ski racers.
For the past 14 months, since the announcement that the Audi FIS Ski World Cup was returning to the Eastern USA, every mom and dad of a young ski racer in New England knew that on Thanksgiving weekend, they would be taking their kids to Killington.
KILLINGTON, VT (Nov. 27, 2016) – In front of a huge hometown crowd and her entire family, Mikaela Shiffrin (Eagle-Vail, CO) shone under pressure to win the Audi FIS Ski World Cup slalom at Vermont’s Killington Mountain. Shiffrin’s win capped off a successful weekend in the east coast that will impact ski racing for decades to come.
Coming in as the odds-on favorite, Shiffrin had a couple of small bobbles in her second run, but put aside all the pre-race pressure to extend her first run lead and win by .73 seconds ahead of Veronika Velez Zuzulova of Slovakia to take her 21st World Cup win. Wendy Holdener of Switzerland was third.
“It’s been incredible,” said Shiffrin. “I knew it was going to be a big one and special, and I was so excited. It’s the east coast - I know this place and I know these people love to watch ski racing. I’m so proud that they all came out and really cheered that loud!”
KILLINGTON, VT (Dec. 26, 2016) – 16,000 fans showed up at Vermont's Killington Mountain to watch the best giant slalom skiers in the world race their home hill of Superstar. With one of the largest women's alpine racing crowds in the history of the Audi FIS Ski World Cup, the noise was deafening, with people driving from far and wide to cheer on their heroes at the first World Cup in the east coast in 25 years. Delighting the crowd, Mikaela Shiffrin (Eagle-Vail, CO) grabbed fifth place and spent hours signing autographs for aspiring athletes after her race.
The day opened with clear, warm weather, but it got steadily colder as precipitation and fog rolled in throughout the day. The track was rough with bumpy conditions due to the wet weather. Tessa Worley of France was first, with first-run leader Nina Loeseth of Norway in second and Sofia Goggia of Italy in third.
KILLINGTON, VT (Nov. 24, 2016) – The athletes are en route to #beastworldcup, 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. One of New England's premier resorts, Killington Mountain, is primed to play host to the best skiers in the world this weekend, and Superstar will be the big stage.
KITTILÄ, Finland (Nov. 12, 2016) – Mikaela Shiffrin (Eagle-Vail, CO) overcame Audi FIS Ski World Cup slalom opener nerves, skiing two clean and solid runs en route to her first World Cup victory of the 2017 season. Switzerland's Wendy Holdener grabbed second, .67 seconds out, while Slovakia's Petra Vlhova rounded out the podium in third, .75 seconds behind Shiffrin.
It was a beautiful, crisp day up in Lapland, with a picturesque sunrise and perfect rock-hard conditions on the race track. Starting lucky number seven, Shiffrin laid down a smoking first run, finishing .72 ahead of 2016 World Cup slalom title holder Frida Hansdotter and Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener. The battle between Shiffrin and Hansdotter ended when Hansdotter straddled on the pitch second run and skied out. Shiffrin knifed the bulletproof pitch and maintained her lead all the way to the finish, earning herself another prize Lapland reindeer and a buddy for her 2013 prize reindeer Rudolph. His name? Sven.
KITTILÄ, Finland (Nov. 12, 2016) – It’s a winter wonderland in Kittilä, Finland—home to Levi, the ski resort that plays host to the Audi FIS Ski World Cup slalom opener. Ladies and gentlemen, this is Santa Claus country. Though the word on the streets of Soelden was not optimistic for the slalom opener, it seems that Ullr, the Nordic God of Snow and Winter, had different plans. Either that or Santa Claus came early. Either way, it’s a cold winter wonderland and the elves aren’t the only ones excited to get this show on the road!
SOELDEN, Austria (October 22, 2016) – Mikaela Shiffrin (Eagle-Vail, CO) kicked off the season with a bang, nailing the podium at the Audi FIS Ski World Cup giant slalom in Soelden, taking second place. Lara Gut of Switzerland dominated the race, winning by 1.44 seconds.
It was a bluebird day with grippy snow, and Gut—last season’s overall World Cup winner—took advantage of the conditions. Shiffrin looked strong after starting 16th first run, but couldn’t keep up with Gut's flawless performance. Gut led Shiffrin by 1.42 seconds after the first run and while Shiffrin stayed on her heels second run, the lead was too great. Behind Shiffrin was Marta Bassino of Italy, who stepped on her first World Cup podium in third place.
SOELDEN, Austria (Oct. 19, 2016) – The fog has been swirling around the Rettenbach Glacier, creating an atmosphere of magic like something out of a fairytale. The spirit of ski racing is swirling around Soelden, too, as the crew preps the stage for one of the biggest shows in ski racing: the Audi FIS Ski World Cup opener kicking off the 50th anniversary of the tour.
This Saturday marks the start to a jam-packed 2016-17 season, with 16 domestic alpine World Cups including Killington Resort, Beaver Creek Resort and Squaw Valley, and featuring World Cup Finals to end the season at Aspen Snowmass. The potential outcome at the World Cup opener is always a bit of a question mark for athletes, as it’s a testing ground of sorts. What is unquestionable, however, is their appetite for competition. They’re ready to get this show on the road.