Mikaela Shiffrin has ruled slalom at the Women's World Cup race in Killington, Vermont, since its inception in 2016. ©Mark D Phillips

For most of us who will never have the chance to win a reindeer, the Killington World Cup races have become the official start of the New England ski season. All the local racers are prepping, well into their dry-land training for the 3-month race season.

Five time Killington Cup champion Mikaela Shiffrin leads the best female skiers in the world to the 2023 edition of Vermont’s stop as they Ski the East during the Audi FIS Ski World Cup Tour on the weekend after Thanksgiving.

The Killington Cup event in 2016 was the return of FIS Ski World Cup held in the eastern USA since 1991 at Waterville Valley, NH, and the first in Vermont since 1978 at Stratton Mountain. The three day event at Killington Ski Resort begins with the Bib draw on Friday night followed by fireworks. With the top ten of 100 skiers drawing their start positions and playing it up for the crowd, it is an intimate event with the sports’ best.

The Killington Cup giant slalom set the largest single-day attendance record on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019, when 19,500 spectators watched Italy’s Marta Bassino capture her first career win, with Shiffrin finishing in third for a fourth straight top-five finish in GS at the Vermont venue without taking the win. In 2022, Shiffrin had her worst finish at Killington in either discipline, finishing 13th—her first time out of the top five in the Killington giant slalom and her toughest World Cup GS finish in three years.

Petra Vlhova is the favorite in the GS portion of the Killington Cup on Saturday, November 25, after dominating both runs at Levi’s opening season GS leading up to Killington. Shiffrin suffered through a crash in a training run, finishing fourth in the race, behind Lena Duerr of Germany in 2nd and Katharina Liensberger for Austria in third.

On Sunday, November 26, Schiffrin defends her slalom title as she battles her main rivals — Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova, Croatia’s Leona Popovic, and Germany’s Lean Duerr — Popovic and Duerr sharing last week’s podium in Levi, Finland, while Vlhova held the lead after Run One, but lost control in Run Two before skiing out.

Shiffrin’s victory increased her World Cup win record to 89, giving her the most World Cup slalom wins at a single venue with seven wins and seven reindeer in Levi.

From Mikaela on Instagram:

Behold: the announcement you’ve all been waiting for (lol, hardly I’m sure 🤪)…I loved all of the suggestions for reindeer names that everyone sent! Finally landed on one that I don’t think too many people would expect: Grogu! The background on this is fairly simple–Grogu (Baby Yoda) is one of my favorite characters of all time. His mannerisms are so funny and he’s simultaneously adorable and badass. Last year during the season, I started to use him as inspiration when I would get nervous at races and it became kind of a running joke with my team and family. Basically whenever I seem to be feeling a lot of pressure someone close to me will whisper “Groguuuuu!” And that helps me to kind of reset🥴.

Other fav suggestions were:

“Iga” (after @iga.swiatek – LOVE this one, obvi),
“Muffin” (after my dear cat who passed a few years ago),
“Loopie” (a really silly nickname I use for @akilde),
“Lucky (no. 7)” (because we all can use a bit of luck and I certainly got my fair share yesterday😅),
“Petra” (love the idea of paying tribute to @petravlhova13’s performance over the weekend and how she has pushed my own level of skiing higher over the years)

…Or something relating to @taylorswift (or TSwift and @killatrav, cuz #trending 📶😉), there are a lot of possibilities here as it was no. 89 for me and she just released 1989 (Taylor’s Version)…“Wilder” for Wildest Dreams comes to mind. Or perhaps “Seven (Mikaela’s Version)” or “89 (Mikaela’s Version)”.

New England Masters Ski Racing has a full schedule across all the race disciplines

After watching the best athletees in the world, it’s time to channel your inner speedster and take on the gates yourself.

New England Masters Ski Racing announced an exciting schedule of Super G, GS, and Slalom competition and camps for 2023-24, culminating in the Masters Eastern Regionals at Gore Mountain on March 8, 9, and 10. (The full schedule is available here)

The NEMS season begins at Stowe Mountain Resort from December 12 – 16, 2023, a 4-day camp and the first race of the season, a 2x slalom. The competition features two full races, with two-runs in the morning followed by the second race with two runs in the afternoon.

The race season returns on January 7, 2024. as NEMS brings its racers to Killington for a 2x GS. You may not get to race on Superstar where the Audi FIS Ski World Cup Tour makes its runs, but the day is just as amazing. Last years Killington race was one of the best.

Justin White-Chandler blazes to a fastest time on the mountain with a combined 50.56 at the New England Masters GS Race at Killington Resort on March 18, 2023. ©Mark D Phillips

Mount Snow will host Lisa Ballard’s Masters Camp from Jan. 8 – 11, 2024, with two-days of training in each discipline, slalom and giant slalom (GS). The four day camp is followed by a 2x GS on Friday, January 12, 2024. On Saturday, January 13, Whaleback Mountain opens its doors for their first 2x Slalom, with racers returning on March 2 for the last slalom competition prior to the Eastern Regionals.

My favorite Friday and Saturday schedule is January 19 – 20, with TWO Giant Slalom races at Waterville Valley on the famous World Cup race trail, home to the 1991 World Cup competition, followed by the Hochgebirge Challenge Cup. The oldest ski club race in North America, back for its 86th year, will be held at the Mittersill Alpine Resort and Village, a unique ski area with surrounding village chalets in the authentic Austrian style. Founded by the Baron Hubert von Pantz in 1945, it truly is a gem to enjoy.

The final week of January brings Masters racing to Stratton from January 25 – 28, 2024, for a day of Super-G training, 2 x Super-G Races in the National Speed Series, the Janeway Cup Giant Slalom, and Slalom on Sunday.

NEMS returns to Okemo for the first time in several years as they host 2 x Super G – National Speed Series race of Thursday, February 1, 2024, with a Giant Slalom on February 2.

Mount Southington features a Dual Parallel Panel Slalom on Saturday, February 3. The Slalom here is the real deal!  A unique course requiring racers to walk up to the start that is perched high above, bolting out onto an initial flat section that has you pushing until the pitch when the real excitement starts. It was one of last year’s really fun events, plus a beautiful, super cold day that made incredible photographs.

NEMS final race of the season on March 15, 2024, is a return to Berkshire East for a 2x GS on one of our favorite hills. It also is a testament to one of the best race hills in Massachusetts. Last seasons race gave some of the best photographs of the season.

Matt Dodge in the Masters GS Race at Berkshire East on February 3, 2023. ©Mark D Phillips
Matt Dodge in the Masters GS Race at Berkshire East on February 3, 2023. ©Mark D Phillips

Bookmark southbrooklyn.com and join us for another great season of ski racing as we SKI THE EAST and bring excitement to the slopes!