The Heroic Killington Cup - My Experience From The Other Side Of The Media Fence

Good morning ski, snowboard, ski race, and snow sports fans! I say
Good Morning because I am starting to write this article on the morning of Day 2, Slalom Day, at the Heroic Killington Cup. It’s a mild morning here at Killington Resort. The winds are not as strong and the temps are not as low as they were yesterday for the GS race. As I watch from the media center window as the vendor and race areas come to life, it seems almost like a sleepy Sunday morning. That fits, though, since it is Sunday morning.

I am starting to realize that my plans for covering this event have changed a couple of dozen times since I received the email that I was approved for media accreditation back in October. Some of those plans had to change based on what I have learned on this side of the media fence. Yes, Ski Rex Media has been around for a while, but this is the first time I have been able to work as media at an international event. I don’t want to say I’m in over my head, but there is definitely a learning curve.

There’s also the way in which I want to cover the event. I have recorded some audio thinking I would use it as a podcast. But, is that what I really want to do? Would that really be of interest, especially if I’m not able to talk to any of the athletes? Beyond that, there are also social media posts, of course. I think I’ll have that covered. In the end, though, I’m thinking that I should put this experience into a written piece.

What is that angle going to be? How did I finally come up with it? That’s easy. I will cover this event in the way Ski Rex Media should.

What does that mean?

Let’s be honest…though I do create content about sports, I am not a sports writer or journalist. There are plenty of professionals here to talk about that side of the event. They can analyze skiers and tell you all about the winners and losers much better than I can and far more in-depth. That’s their job and they are, most likely, very good at it. Plus, there are more than a ton of them doing just that. I’m sure you can find an outlet for that if you’d like.

However, even with that said, I can give you a little overview of both days. This is how both days turned out.

Day 1 - Giant Slalom Podium

First: Lara Gut-Behrami - SUI

Second: Marta Basssino - ITA

Third: Sara Hector - SWE

Team USA

Mikaela Shiffrin - 13th

Paula Moltzan - 18th

Nina O’Brien - 23rd

Katie Hensien - 27th

Allie Resnick - DNQ

Ava Sunshine - DNQ

AJ Hurt - DNF

Day 2 - Slalom Podium

First: Anna Swenn Larsson - SWE

First:  Wendy Holdener - SUI

Third: Katharina Truppe - AUT

Team USA

Mikaela Shiffrin - 5th

Paula Moltzan - DNQ

Nina O’Brien - DNF

Katie Hensien - DNF

Ava Sunshine - DNF

AJ Hurt - DNF

Now, what did I mean when I said, “That’s easy. I will cover this event in the way Ski Rex Media should.”?

I want to go beyond the racers and who won and lost and take a look at the event as a whole, especially in the ways it aligns with Ski Rex Media ideals. That is, snow sports are for everyone and we are all out here to have fun.

The beauty of coming at this article in that way is that my media credentials put me right in between the fans and the athletes & behind-the-scenes. That’s very literal, too. The area that I had access to in the mixed media zone was between the fans and the teams. But, this also gave me a chance to be on the inside looking out. As in, I was at the races to work but could see, hear, and even interact with those that were just there for the fun of it. The fans & spectators. While doing that, I was able to still be a spectator, just as I had during races past. This was not the first time I had been to this World Cup Event at Killington.

One of the first things a person notices while at this event is that a great deal of it centers around the fun. Like many other facets of snow sports, this is a giant social event. People are talking, people are cheering, people are having drinks, and making new friends while running into old friends. It was hard to find someone that didn’t have a smile on their face and that was not having a good time.

This includes being out there in the cold. On Saturday it was brutal cold. The temps, even in the sun, were hovering in the 30s as a high…maybe. The wind was cutting right to the core. It was cold enough to not only keep the course solid and slick but the area around the finish line was just as solid, no matter how many people walked on it. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that it stayed solid no matter how many people were sliding around on it. 

I have a quick side note speaking of sliding. Check out the kids in this video. They were up and down that hill sliding all day.

The point was, however, that the cold didn’t matter. The wind didn’t matter. These people were here to see the race and have a good time and nothing was going to stop that. Not even the threat of rain on Sunday. It just didn’t matter. The fans were here to see these women race and they had an amazing time doing so.

I also believe a large amount of the fun comes in the form of fan interaction with the athletes. It’s a ton of fun to know that you are almost close enough to tap a person on the shoulder that normally one would only see on TV or online. Again, I was right between the athletes & the spectators and was able to see their eyes get even wider and their smiles even broader. I have three stories to speak to that point.

The first happened on Saturday, Giant Slalom day. Mikaela Shiffrin had just finished for the day and was making her way out of the finish area. On the spectator side, a group of kids was shouting her name, doing anything they could to get her attention.

Now, we didn’t know at the moment but found out later that she had been picked for random doping tests. That happens. So, she had to go get tested. However, on her way to get that done, she turned, waved, and smiled at the group of kids and their faces lit up. I mean, they were calling out for autographs and such, but just to be acknowledged by the best in the world sent them to the moon. 

These kids in particular were racer kids, as well. They were wearing their team jackets, that’s how I know. So, for them, this wasn’t just a chance to get acknowledged by the best in the world, but by a person that has achieved a dream that these kids may have. A role model, as they say.

That same day, Shiffrin’s teammate, Paula Moltzan, pulled off another feat of athleticism and jumped the fence. I mean, she had changed from her boots to sneakers, but still. She did it after racing that day and the fence had to be about 4 ft. (122 cm) high.

In any case, she jumped the fence to see family, friends, and fans. She was handing out signed photos, shaking hands, kissing babies…all the stuff you might see a politician do, but received in a much more positive and loving light.

Again, to see the kids that were on the fence light up when they got to talk to, get autographs & fist bumps from, and take pictures with another role model absolutely warms the heart and shows you how much fun this sport is. It’s a moment in their lives that they won’t forget anytime soon. I’m sure the same goes for adults. Heck, I didn’t get to speak to her, but I was still having a lot of fun just seeing this racing superstar have fun, as well.

Lastly, another kid moment that I was only steps away from. Sara Hector, the Swedish skier that placed third on Saturday in the GS was making her way through the mixed media area and was again being mobbed by kids, or would have been if the fence wasn’t there. I’m not sure of the whole story even though I was really close to it. I came into this one a little late. But anyway, one of those kids was able to get her to sign and hand over her bib. That’s right, there is a kid here in the U.S. that has a signed bib of Sara Hector’s the day she had a podium finish. How cool is that? I’m sure it’s wicked cool for those that were on the receiving end and it seemed pretty cool for Ms. Hector, as well. 

Now, as for the athletes having fun, I think they’re having a ball, as well. At least, I really hope they are. I would hate to think that the sport they grew up in, that they have a passion for, and that there have been able to achieve the highest levels of success in has become “just a job”. That would be a real bummer to watch and an even bigger bummer for them to have to live through, I’m sure.

The smiles, however, look too authentic for them to not be having fun. Also, if you look at their social media pages, they show how much fun they are having. Sure, maybe they get disappointed sometimes with their own performance, but in the end, they seem to be having just as good of a time as the spectators. I’d even say that some of the fun the athletes are having is charged by the spectators. I mean, who wouldn’t dig on having 20,000+ people cheering for you?

This brings me to another idea that I like to talk about on Ski Rex Media. I feel that snow sports as a whole is for everyone. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, as long as you enjoy it. To that point, though we all can see that the athletes were from many different countries around the world, it didn’t matter. Of course, we, like any crowd at any venue on the planet, had hometown & home-country love, but it still didn’t matter where someone was from.

Here’s what I mean. Mikaela Shiffrin got the most crowd noise, with the other ladies of the U.S. team coming in second. Again, home-country love. However, no matter who came down that course, the crowd was behind them 100%!

At times the crowd was so loud with cheering, yelling, and ringing cowbells that one couldn’t hear the person next to them. The more exciting the race was, the more the fans lost their minds. When the times were within hundredths of a second, the crowd was near deafening.

I mean that quite literally, too. I could feel the sound in my ears and head. It was an experience I’ve never had at a sporting event.

But the point is that it didn’t matter at all where any of these women came from. It was all about the passion and thrill of the sport. The excitement of each athlete putting as much of themselves onto that course as they could and the spectators acknowledging every single second, or hundredth of a second, as the case may be.

You can see that with the athletes, too. As they made their way from the finish line, through the mixed media area, and out towards the lift, you could see the camaraderie between them. I don’t want to use a cliche here, but it is almost like a sisterhood. I don’t necessarily mean the hugs that you see on TV and online broadcasts, either. Of course, they all offer professional courtesy to each other. They are all professional athletes performing in a professional manner. But there is more to it than that. There is a true friendship between these women, no matter the country or language that they speak. A kinship that seems to go beyond being international alpine skiers.

To put it simply, it means something when they all use each other’s first names. I mean, I use their first names too and so do a lot of other folks, but it doesn’t mean the same thing. These women mean it.

The excitement of sports. The camaraderie of friends. The idea of it doesn’t matter where a person comes from. The idea of one shouldn’t let the weather or anything stop them from experiencing something like this. It all makes for one of the most wonderful sporting events I have ever been to. One that I would highly recommend to anyone who even has a slight inkling of snow sports or competitive skiing interest or even if you don’t.

Speaking of which, there was another example of how snow sports are for everyone no matter their level of interest. Not every skier and rider is interested in international competitions, you know? Point of fact, Killington Resort was a giant example of that.

If you were at the race, you might have noticed that the K1 Express Gondola was running the entire time. Maybe you or maybe you didn’t, but it was running. That wasn’t the lift that the race event was using. That was a lift that was taking everyday, ordinary recreational skiers & riders to the top of the mountain for a day on the slopes.

I’m sure drone video footage, or maybe even people flying over the mountain would have seen this, but there was regular daily skiing and riding going on alongside a major international event. Everyone was welcome to head to the mountain that weekend, bar none.

That’s what snow sports should be. We take all comers no matter who you are and we hope that you have a good time no matter what you want to see or do and no matter how well you do it.

I mean, I still want to send a shout-out to athletes for a job well done, and congratulations to the six women who made the podium over the weekend. But it was so much more than that. It was fun for anyone and everyone and I was happy to be a part of it not only as media but as someone who enjoys watching ski racing from time to time.

Lastly, I want to say thank you to Killington Resort for hosting the event and giving me the opportunity to be on the other side of the media fence. I also want to thank Stifel for their part in the event. Also, to U.S. Ski & Snowboard & the U.S. Ski Team, as well as all of the visiting teams. It was a wild experience, as well as a learning experience for me. I will tell more of that part of my story in my book series, The Poser Chronicles. Stay tuned for that.

Thank You!

Oh, by the way. Please subscribe to Ski Rex Media here on the website and/or on the social media pages. The links are below. Thanks again!


Please check out the Ski Rex Media sponsors and partners. I love these folks and I think you would, too.