World Cup weekend wows record crowds
What a weekend! It would seem that while many people's eyes are looking sleep-starved, their mouths are fixed in permanent grins. Killington's Xfinity World Cup was a huge success, marking the second year in a row that the Resort and town have pulled off an incredible event.
The weekend kicked off with an awesome KMS Alumni party at the Highline Lodge, where former students who went to school in the Grange, at Pico, and in the current building, gathered with teachers, coaches, staff and parents to reminisce and make new connections. This will definitely be an annual event, so be sure to join us in November 2018 for an even bigger gathering. The Alumni party was followed by an incredibly fun and entertaining bib draw up at the Resort, with Doug Lewis and Warner Nickerson (in what became his signature American flag one-piece suit), entertaining the crowd as the racers learned their start order for the next day. One of the best firework shows of all time rounded out the bib draw, leaving everyone excited for the racing to kick off the next morning.
Saturday morning's day of racing opened with a fantastic parade of VARA athletes, with KMS students serving as parade marshals to help usher hundreds of young, alpine athletes representing a variety of Vermont clubs. With record crowds of 18,000 in attendance to watch Saturday's GS, fans roared as finishers came in for their second runs, with Germany's Viktoria Rebensburg edging out local favorite Mikaela Shiffrin to take the win. In Sundays' SL, 16,000 spectators cheered so loudly that the athletes said they could hear them from the top of the trail, indiscriminately rooting for racers from all nations. In the end, it was last year's victor who took home the win again, comfortably winning both slalom runs. Shiffrin finished 1.64 seconds ahead of Petra Vlhova of Slovakia, who won the last two World Cup slaloms. Bernadette Schild finished third in 1:43.58, 2.67 seconds back.
Gar Trayner, the school's Director of Athletic Development, played a pivotal role in the weekend, serving as Chief of Course, along with KSC/KMS Competitions Program Director/KMS Events Manager Chuck Hughes who served as Chief of Race. Trayner reflected on the weekend, commenting, "What a truly exceptional event, when FIS and US Ski and Snowboard officials are throwing around words like 'world class' and 'perfect' you know that something special has happened. This year our task was to evolve and raise the bar from last year's event, and we truly believe we did that and it came down to two things: precise planning and a very high level of execution by our volunteers. Volunteers who work collaboratively are the key to success in any event like this, and ours where incredible this year, and we must give them thanks and praise."
Head of School, VARA President, and Local Organizing Committee member Tao Smith shared, "After 2016, many thought it impossible to top last year's event. The organizing committee met early and talked about ways that we could not recreate the 2016 World Cup, but make it an even better event and experience. I didn't think it was possible because 2016 was so great. But this past weekend's World Cup surpassed any expectation I could have. Between the course crew, the volunteers, the athletes, the world press, the spectators the crowd and the energy it was an experience that none of us will ever forget. We have proved that Killington hosts the best World Cup on the Women's tour, and that was repeated to me many times, by many people involved, at all levels of the sport throughout the course of the weekend."
Congratulations to all involved on an incredibly successful weekend. KMS forerunners Izzy Jenne, Cassidy Bebo and Jenna Jenkins represented the school wonderfully, navigating the GS and SL courses with grace and ferocity. It was wonderful to see all the alumni, friends, and some new faces at the KMS tent near the bottom of the race course throughout the weekend. Many thanks to all the volunteers who were an integral part to executing the event. We can't wait to do it again next year!
(Thanks to Ansel Dickey of Vermont Social and Tao Smith for the photos below and Tom Horrocks of US Ski and Snowboard for the lead image)