Before Mikaela Shiffrin stole the gold at the Audi FIS Women’s World Cup in Killington this past weekend, a local skier was on the course. Lydia Riddell, 18-year-old senior at Green Mountain Valley School, faced a World Cup crowd when she foreran the course on Saturday morning, November 30. A forerunner’s job is to make sure the course is running well, that there are no technical difficulties.
“It was a really exciting day for me to get to be around those athletes and ski on that course,” said Riddell.
The Killington World Cup has pulled in over 30,000 spectators for the past four years. Riddell had never skied in front of a crowd that big, but she wasn’t nervous. “I was only nervous when I was standing in the gate waiting to go. But once I was on course it was just exciting and fun,” she said. As a forerunner, racers must find a balance between speed and control.
“You’re definitely going for it and pushing hard, but maybe taking a little bit cleaner of a line just to make sure you finish the course, because that’s the No. 1 goal, as the person whose making sure it runs OK,” said Riddell.
Riddell’s coach was the first to tell her she’d be forerunning the World Cup. “This past fall, after training, my coach said, ‘Hey can I talk to you for a second?’” Riddell thought she was in trouble.
“I thought, ‘Oh no! What did I do?’ and he pulled me aside and said, ‘You get to forerun Killington.’” Other GMVS skiers have forerun the Women’s World Cup at Killington in years past, including Hannah Utter, Ellie Curtis and Abi Jewett. Jewett also competed there in 2018 as a member of the U.S. Alpine Ski Team.
At GMVS, with training and academics, the school days are long. Here’s what a typical week looks like: On Monday, students go to school all day and then Tuesday through Friday they train on the mountain from 8 a.m. to noon, have lunch and attend classes until 6 p.m. The weekends are for competing.
“In the winter, it’s definitely difficult to balance skiing and school, but that’s the great thing about being at GMVS. They create an environment that makes that possible,” said Riddell.
In the future, Riddell hopes to ski on the NCAA circuit. But no pressure. “It’s definitely a dream to be skiing at the World Cup with numbers instead of letters on my bib, but for now I’m taking it day by day, continuing to love the sport and have fun.”
Riddell lives in Fayston with her parents who are also avid skiers. When she’s not skiing or studying, she can be found playing lacrosse, mountain biking, spending time with friends and enjoying the Vermont outdoors.