Athletes from all over the world have descended on Vermont’s Killington Resort for this weekend’s Audi FIS Ski World Cup.
“It’s going well,” racer Ana Drev of Slovenia said of her training at Killington.
Drev is among the athletes from 21 countries now taking training runs ahead of this weekend’s races.
The festivities kick off Friday with autograph signings, a concert, and fireworks. The races take place Saturday and Sunday. Free entertainment, including performances by KT Tunstall, Michael Franti, and Guster, will also be provided.
According to Killington, 78 women are set to compete in the Audi FIS Ski World Cup on Saturday, and 71 on Sunday.
At last year’s competition, fans turned out in droves to cheer on New England favorite Mikaela Shiffrin. Shiffrin is back in town this year, eying another World Cup win.
“It’s one of my favorite stops on the World Cup,” Drev said of Killington. “The slope is not easy, not hard, so pretty much skiable—I like it very much.”
Drev said the course design enables her to push her limits.
“I think all the athletes like to be here at Killington,” said Austrian Katharina Liensberger, who took home silver this year from the Olympic Games in South Korea in the team event.
Liensberger said New England racing fans make Killington a fun stop for the athletes.
“I really like it if there’s a lot of people making a good feeling coming into the finish,” Liensberger told necn and NBC10 Boston. “It’s really cool, the atmosphere here.”
Herwig Demschar with Killington’s parent company, Powder Corporation, said hosting a World Cup event for the third straight year should send a message that East Coast resorts can really hang with the destinations out West.
“It’s also promotion for skiing in New England because people in Europe, and maybe even people in the United States, don’t understand it’s actually really good skiing here,” Demschar said. “And it’s snowing on us right now, so people should come out and enjoy the powder!”
Demschar said one of Powdr’s goals in hosting the event was to bring the sport of ski racing closer to the fans of the Northeast, especially young competitive skiers.
“Especially with Mikaela Shiffrin coming from this part of the United States, we were expecting a lot of fans to come and see the races,” Demschar said. “The first year, we had about 30,000 people over the weekend. Last year we had about 34,000 people. These are record-breaking crowds, in the United States, but also internationally.”
It’s free to watch the races this weekend at Killington, but if you can’t make it in-person, NBC will be airing them at 3 p.m. Saturday, and at 1 p.m. Sunday.