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Killington launches new specialty experiences

Killington has a well-deserved reputation for teaching people to ski that harkens back to the 1960s when, working in tandem with SKI Magazine, they put GLM (graduated length method) on the map. That method brought thousands to ski school to learn to ski parallel utilizing three different length skis in a week. This sparked Killington to become the most popular area in the East.

From there Killington developed the Accelerated Method and the ski school has never stopped working on avant garde instructional methods since. Recently, the resort focused on the individual through the Max 5 program, which guarantees no more than five people in a group - for group lessons that run the spectrum from "never-evers" to experienced skiers and snowboarders.

Now the Snowsports School is kicking things up several notches with specialty clinics that will meet the needs of skiers/riders from aspiring women who want to elevate their skills and confidence to adults who want to tackle trees or un-groomed terrain to freestylers who are ready to boost their skills and repertoires in the park. This season, Killington has lined up Dan Egan, Ian Compton, Yale Cousino, and Donna Weinbrecht to rock the world of skiers and riders in each of their specialty.

At a press event December 21, writers got a taste of the new clinics. Former Olympian and Gold medalist Picabo Street spoke about the great diversity of experiences now available to snowsport enthusiasts, calling the huge "variety of on-snow choices a beautiful development."

Recently, she has experiences this variety. Street now spends "time in the terrain park with my boys," she said. Then she added that she thought she was in good shape until she followed a wiggling Donna Weinbrecht through the moguls.

"Donna was rocking my world today," she exclaimed, noting, "I've been an Alpiner all my life."

Snowsport School Director Dave Beckwith noted that the move to enter action sports actually stemmed from parent Powdr Corp. Experiencing the success of Woodward at Copper Mt. (the action sports camp/facility Powdr acquired with its purchase of Copper). Powdr embraced the action sports industry and then bought the Woodward program (action sports camps) in Pennsylvania. 

Hoping to change direction of Killington's Snowsport School and modernize it but still offer something for everyone, Beckwith noted that "the action sports piece fit in nicely. Offering some clinics with top personalities in the ski world is also in keeping with The Beast of the East manner," he noted.

"The action personalities conducting the clinics appeal to various generations," Beckwith added. Athletes like Ian and Yale appeal to a younger generation, he said.

Similarly extreme skier Dan Egan and moguls specialist Donna Weinbrecht are experienced teachers who are known by adults and can adjust their teaching for adult learners, he noted, saying, the hope is to cover the spectrum of ages with a diversity of experiences that can keep more people actively engaged in snow sports.

New experiences to rock your world

Dan Egan is one of the top adventure skiers who made his reputation as extreme skiing was making its daredevil debut. Powder Magazine dubbed him one of the "Top Skiers of All Time," and Warren Miller captured his feats in 12 of his films. Egan has become an award-winning producer in his own right, and has been nominated for three Emmy Awards.

He has also authored two books and produced a dozen videos on skiing. He leads and participates in adventure travel trips, ranging from the Alps to the Arctic and coaches advanced ski clinics all over the world. This is his first season at Killington, and he is leading a series of diverse experiences.

On December 30-31, 2011 and February 4-5, 2012, Egan is offering an all-terrain skiing experience that focuses on one's equipment and Killington's diverse terrain with a goal to develop skills that will enable participants to enjoy all of Killington's trails.

Egan's all-mountain experience on January 7-8, 2012 takes skiers "where no groomer has gone before" in a weekend adventure in the moguls, steeps and trees.

On February 18-19 and March 3-4, 2012, he will impart advanced skills by teaching about reading the terrain and picking the best line down the mountain.

Monster Freeride Sessions

The Monster Freeride Sessions feature local, top-action-sport athletes Ian Compton and Yale Cousino coaching participants in modern park and pipe activities.

Compton is known for his technical prowess on rails, his infectious attitude and his love for skiing. He continues to push the boundaries of what is possible on skis with a creative style that has landed him spots in Line Skis Traveling Circus webisodes.

Cousino's technical skills have landed him top results in slopestyle competitions and rail jams while his smooth style and creativity have garnered him numerous magazine shots and film segments, including Next Level from Brothers Factory.

The line up of sessions and age groups are as follows:
December 27-28, 2011
    2-day session featuring Ian Compton and Yale Cousino for ages 7-18

December 29, 2011
    1-day drop-in session featuring Ian Compton and Yale Cousino for ages 13-18

January 14-15, 2012
    2-day session featuring Ian Compton for ages 7-18

February 19-20, 2012
    2-day session featuring Ian Compton for ages 7-18

February 21-23, 2012
    3-day Presidents Week session featuring Ian Compton for ages 7-18

March 17-18, 2012
    2-day session featuring Ian Compton and Yale Cousino for ages 7-18

For Women Only Weekends

On the weekends of January 14-15, 2012 and February 10-12, 2012, Olympic gold medalist and world champion mogul skier, Donna Weinbrecht and Killington Resort's top female coaches will offer a program of fun, food and skiing. This program is for intermediate, advanced or expert skiers looking for an all-female learning environment that will encourage you to explore your limits in a comfortable, non-pressured way.

Skiing instruction and video analysis are part of the program to bring skills to the next level, but it is the camaraderie that develops that enables women to truly shine. That is where Weinbrecht's love of teaching and friendly personality come to play.

Okay, she is a celebrity. Her gold medal in 1992 was the first freestyle gold medal awarded at the Winter Olympics. As a moguls' specialist, she has won seven national titles, has forty-six World Cup wins, and is a member of both the National Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame and the Hall of Fame at the Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum. She's listed as one of the Ski Channel's Top 50 Olympians of All Time and continues to bang out bump runs at the big K where she's skied since the mid-1970s honing her bump skills on Outer Limits.

On December 21, I had the opportunity to sample her specialty clinic. Mind you, it was my first ski day of the season and Picabo Street (yes, the retired Olympian who won downhill and GS Olympic medals and World Championships) was also in my group. The session was videotaped as we attempt to ski like Weinbrecht. After just two warm up runs, there I was standing at the top of Bittersweet with a group about to sample moguls instruction - pretty courageous of me, I thought.

Donna started with pointers about pole plants. The instruction on arm and pole position was familiar to me, but what was new was how important and essential good, proper pole plants are for mogul skiing.

Then off Donna went doing short swing (a gorgeous dance) with perfect pole flicks. Members of the group followed, practicing the technique.

Slower than the group, I deferred to be last. Picabo asked me if I was nervous or scared and I admitted to having butterflies. So I followed her down the hill (she couldn't watch me that way, I figured) skiing in her tracks.

What a hoot!

Following in Picabo's tracks was such a mental boost. After that run, she also told me to focus on something like the pole plants to overcome jitters.

The next boost came when I watched Picabo follow Donna down the next section. I saw Street do the fast short swing turns (like a slalom run but no gates - just turn, turn, turn) and then stop and exclaim, "Wow that is tiring. I am exhausted."

That made me so happy. Here she is a former racer/gold medalist who is 25 years younger than me, but like some of us, she is not used to the work of fast tight turning and she felt some fatigue - hers was fleeting but real in the moment, which made me feel okay about taking extra rest stops!

Ladies, and Gents, do you see my point? World-class skiers can give you a leg up in the comfort and confidence department while coaching you to be more aggressive or to work on advanced skiing skills.  They do that in part because they are aware of the importance of your comfort zone - and the importance of coaxing you out of it at the right moments.

Don't be afraid of skiing with a top athlete. They love to teach and are excellent communicators!  What's more they are fun to be with. No attitude, just great cheerleaders who know their stuff. You won't do better than to spend a weekend in on of these specialty clinics.

For more details on any of the specialty experiences and rates, go to experiences (look under lessons). You can also check out the Specialty Programs that feature similar options but are coached by Killington instructors.

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Photos by Jason Mikula


Karen Lorentz is a journalist/author who learned to ski on a West Hartford (CT) golf course on 1930s wooden skis with bear trap bindings over 50 years ago. She is still trying to "perfect the carve on challenging terrain" but knows "when to skid'em" and has a heck of a good time on snow.

Tagged: killington, Picabo Street, specialty clinics, Dan Egan, Monster Freeride Sessions, Ian Compton, Yale Cousino