Maybe it’s the first images of New England ski areas testing out the snow guns at the first sight of frost on the mountains in mid-September. Or, perhaps it’s an early November stroll at the Boston Ski Expo that does the trick, generating excitement amidst the promises of a fresh season on the horizon.
But for the 34,000 who descended upon Killington Mountain Resort last weekend, the confirmation that it is skiing and riding season came in a spectacular show that validated our collective love for winter sports.
Local favorite Mikaela Shiffrin dominated the slalom in the World Cup’s second stop in Vermont over the last two years, cementing ski racing’s return to the east coast as a rousing success. The fans who made up the record-breaking crowds got the result many were hoping to witness.
Shiffrin, a Vail, Colorado, native who attended Vermont’s Burke Mountain Academy, has quickly made a name for herself and the sport of ski racing at a most opportune time. At 22, she already has last year’s overall World Cup title under her belt and will easily become a household name when she competes in February’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Her win in the slalom Sunday, which took place on an icy Superstar run, generated a certain fever in the stands, an excitement level that handily translated from athlete to fans. That’s a connection east coasters had missed out on after 25 years of being snubbed by World Cup organizers. But in only two years, the event has indeed become the northeast ski season’s signature event over Thanksgiving weekend.
It was, however, only one major happening that officially signals that we have arrived at the most wonderful time of the year. On Sunday, 250 skiing and riding Santas will populate Sunday River in the Maine resort’s 18th annual fundraiser to benefit area communities.
Next weekend will see the debut of an alternative rock music festival at Stratton Mountain Resort featuring The Hip Abduction, Banners and Brian Fallon. And it’s downright impossible not to get excited about the prospects of the season with recent social media posts from Jay Peak Resort, detailing the 18 inches of snow the northern Vermont locale received over the past few days.
Whenever it might be, whatever might trigger the cheerful dawn that it’s time to visit the slopes again, it is an energy that is quickly becoming contagious.
For thousands at Killington, that first buzz-worthy experience came without even having to snap into bindings.
It’s officially ski season. Find your moment.