The first East Coast World Cup skiing event in decades was held over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend in Vermont. The successful women's giant slalom and slalom races have regional officials hoping more such events will occur soon.
Some of the top women ski racers in the world were at the Killington Ski Resort on Saturday and Sunday for the Audi FIS Ski World Cup.
The downhill ski races were the first World Cup races to be held in the eastern United States in 25 years and the first held in Vermont in 38 years.
The U.S. team had Julia Mancuso, Mikaela Shiffrin and Lindsey Vonn competing against the best women's alpine skiers in the world. Shiffrin ended up winning her fifth straight World Cup slalom.
On Saturday, Tessa Worley of France won the giant slalom, her ninth giant slalom World Cup victory and first since a knee injury three years ago.
Regional tourism officials say hosting the major international winter sporting event in Vermont will bring long-term benefits. It’s estimated that about 16,000 people were at the venue to watch the skiers on Sunday. Vermont Chamber of Commerce Vice President of Tourism Ronda Berns anticipates coverage of the event will enhance tourism marketing opportunities. “This was televised in about sixty different countries. We get a lot of people that will see us for the first time. We have people that have come back for this event or have come back because they have been here in the past. But this brings in a lot of new people that had, again, had heard about Vermont, had thought about coming here, might have been on one of their lists. But this gets them to take action. And even if it doesn't happen this year or next year we know in the next few years it's going to be a very large impact on tourism for the entire state and of course Killington certainly was able to put themselves very much back on the map again.”
State Representative Job Tate’s House district includes Killington. He says the resort operated at a loss to bring the World Cup to Vermont. “All the money it took to promote the World Cup and to make the snow and to hire the extra bodies, the resort didn't make money out of this. Their idea is that they will in the future with the increased exposure. As I understand it all the restaurants and all the hotels were booked solid and we had weather on our side. And we saw these incredibly talented women going down our slopes. And even though the resort might have had to take a little bit of a hit to get this exposure it's going to reap huge dividends going forward. And it's so nice to see Mikaela bring the win home for the locals. In the end I mean it’s just a huge benefit to the region.”
Killington Select Board Chair Patty McGrath also owns a local inn. “It was a wonderfully busy Thanksgiving weekend for a lot of the businesses. There was a lot of people who came to ski. There was a lot of people who came to watch the event. So it certainly boosted greatly the economic activity in the area. Probably had to be the biggest Thanksgiving weekend ever I would guess. Although I don't have numbers on that to be specific but just looking at the number of people in town and how busy it was definitely was a huge economic boost.”
Killington began making snow for the event in early October.