Housed 45 minutes from Vermont State University at Castleton, Killington Mountain peaks over the rolling hills of the Green Mountains. The resort, famed for its diverse terrain and challenging runs, has also annually lassoed the best female technical skiers to race down the steep face of Superstar each November since 2016.
The weekend of the Nov. 25-26 witnesseed intense competition and winter bliss as the Audi FIS World Cup made its annual return to North America.
“I remember the moment when I was on the start gate and the clock started to count. I was very nervous and cold; my legs were shaking as I was looking at the first gate. Then I looked up and saw a magnificent view of Swedish lake in between the mountain ranges. That view calmed me down and I remembered why I was there. To ski,” recounts Petra Veljkovic, a senior member of the Castleton Alpine Ski Team.
Veljkovic represented Serbia in the 2019 Ski World Championships in Are, Sweden. Her experience certainly echos the intensity and thrill of competing at the highest level of competition.
The Killington Ski World Cup is comprised of two races, a giant slalom and slalom. The races fall within the technical category of events, as the quicker turns and small radius forces athletes to be as precise – but fast – as possible.
“I loved it! The weather was perfect, and the overall atmosphere was amazing. Killington did a great job by creating not only an amazing race but also an amazing show! I also liked the extra activities that the resort was offering, such as concerts and brand stands,” said Filipo Collini, a junior on the Castleton Alpine Ski Team.
Castleton Alpine Ski Team head coach Christopher Eder has been volunteering at the Killington World Cup since its inception in 2016 and he said “to prepare for a race like this it takes months of planning and preparation.”
“I started volunteering on-snow the Sunday before [the race], so I typically end up working eight consecutive days,” he said.
While preparation for the Cup constitutes a significant commitment, it also provides the opportunity to reconnect with the tightly knit ski racing community, he said.
“It is so cool to see so many Castleton Alpine Ski Team alumni volunteering and playing a part. Many of our alumni are still involved with ski racing in one way or another. Most of the ski academies in Vermont have Castleton ski team alumni coaching there. Okemo mountain school alone has five or six of our alumni coaching for them and they were all at Killington volunteering at the World Cup races,” he said.
Certainly, the international ski world congregates at these events, allowing old friends and competition to reunite. Collini watched an old friend from his ski team in Italy compete in the Cup in addition to others.
“I know another Italian skier that was competing there. Her name is Beatrice Sola and we were on the same regional team,” Collini said.
The theme of supporting past teammates was a central for Veljkovic also.
“I knew all of the Balkan competitors. I trained and raced with most of them, especially the younger ones.,” she said.
The Killington World Cup saw Switzerland’s Lara Gut-Bahrami clock the fast time in the Giant Slalom while USA’s Mikaela Shiffrin won day two’s slalom.
“Over the years, the women on the World Cup have said that the races at Killington are their favorite because of the crowd, as it is the highest attended World Cup race on the circuit,” Eder said.
Located 45 minutes away from VTSU-Castleton, the Cup provides an unmatched opportunity to watch the world’s best skiers.
“Seeing the World Cup live cannot ever compare to a TV screen. You can feel the energy of the athletes pushing down the slope. It is fascinating to see such experts in person,” Veljkovic said.