The Mountain Times

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Central Vermont's Most Popular Weekly Newspaper

Killington A to Z

Killington Resort is one of the nation's most famous pioneering ski resorts with a reputation of international stature. How it got there presents a chance to check your Killington IQ and perhaps re-new your appreciation of how our mountain grew to be so good.

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A is for Access Road and Apres-Ski.

It took 3 years to get the 5-mile road from Route 4 to the mountain's base built so Killington could open (1958). Today, the "Access Road" is one of the most famous in "skierdom" thanks to an abundance of restaurants, shops, lodges and nightspots that literally "rock the road" and make it synonymous with après-ski.

B is for better.

Killington founder Pres Smith wanted to create a ski area that offered a "better ski experience for all ability levels" with more lifts and more trails to enjoy. That's part of the ambitious dream for Killington that caused it to become the East's largest ski area with six different mountain areas connected by easier ski trails. 

C is for Compton, Cousino, and Cumming.

Ian Compton and Yale Cousino serve as coaches for Monster Freeride Sessions in the park. They help kids ages 7-18 take their skills up a creative notch.

John Cumming is the CEO of Powdr Corp, a privately held company that purchased Killington and Pico as Powdr's first Eastern acquisition in 2007.  Powdr, now the second largest owner-operator of U.S. ski resorts, is a company to watch - witness latest involvement with action sports.

D is for deck.

The Vista Deck is located along the Great Eastern trail (just beyond Cruise Control) and sports a café open on weekends and peak periods as well as superb views anytime!

E is for Egan.

Acclaimed adventure skier extraordinaire Dan Egan is leading an All-Terrain skiing experience February 4-5 and 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.

F is for future.

As in the exciting prospects of a new Peak Lodge (debuts December 2012), a complete ski village, a detachable quad for Snowdon, and a link-up of Killington and Pico with trails and lifts.

G is for Golf Course Clubhouse.

The Killington Golf Course Clubhouse is home to the new Tubing Park (open weekends and peak periods) and snowshoe/cross-country center in the winter months. It is located across from The Grand Summit Hotel.

H is for Herwig.

Herwig Demschar, a former racer, educator, and race coach (Austrian National Team; U.S. Women's Ski Team) coached athletes to 13 World Championship medals and 5 Olympic medals, including Picabo Street's Gold. With 10 years Olympics venue management experience, he became Powdr COO  (May 2007) and visits Killington regularly. He sees development of the Village as crucial to being a world-class destination resort. Also, watch for more racing action at the mountain.

I is for intriguing.

Killington has an intriguing array of woods skiing, some on the map (Julio, Anarchy, Patsy's and Low Rider) and some not.

Just as intriguing and delightful for families are the new snowcat-drawn sleigh rides offered on Saturdays at 5 p.m. at Snowshed. Affordable après-ski fun - a family must!

J is for Jay "Rosey" Rosenbaum.

As terrain-park supervisor, he is key to the elements as well as the jams. Watch for his profile in an upcoming issue of the Mountain Times.

K is for Killington Ski Club.

The KSC provides a home on the mountain for families, athletes and program staff, as well as support for Junior competition programs, adult ski programs and social activities. KSC has 300 family members, comprised of 1,200 individuals, many of them adults who enjoy the perks of their private slopeside club building and club camaraderie long after their children have left home.

L is for lifts.

One of Killington's most distinctive traits is the far-reaching and efficient lift system.

But did you know that the original Gondola was the world's longest in 1970 and the first to sport four-passenger cabins that loaded from both sides? The prototype gondola that was replaced by another engineering feat when the Skyeship debuted December 10, 1994 as the world's first heated, eight-passenger, art-in-the-sky gondola (a two-stage gondola to Skye Peak).

M is for Motor Room Bar.

Combine the history of a lift-drive terminal with the newest Saturday evening après-ski experience for adults (21 up). Following a snowcat ride to the Motor Room Bar atop Devil's Fiddle, you'll enjoy light hors d'oeuvres with libations as you take in the views of Bear Mountain - and a return trip under the stars.

N is for novice.

Killington was founded on the principle that novices should be able to enjoy the mountaintop and its beautiful vistas and scenery. So all mountain areas feature easier ways down allowing novices to ski from mountain to mountain. That was unique in its day (1958) and Killington still remains unique in the East by offering the greatest vertical descent for all ability levels.

O is for Otten.

Yes, Killington's second owner Les Otten was a tad ambitious when he formed ASC (1997) which became America's largest ski resort company and which he lost control of due to over spending during the era of irrational exuberance and some tough weather seasons.

But he deserves credit for: the Killington Grand Summit Hotel with spacious ballroom; the K-1 Gondola (named in honor of Pres Smith); the Ramshead Express Quad and Family Center with enlarged Ramshead Lodge for kids' programs and childcare and outdoor learning area with carpet lifts; Needle's Eye Express Quad and the Northbrook Quad; usage of Woodward Reservoir for snowmaking water. He also gave up Parker's Gore lands in exchange for 400-acres for a village center and preserved Pico as one of Vermont's oldest, best loved family areas by purchasing it when it went belly up in 1996.

P is for pioneering. 

Can you name ten "firsts" that were innovated or advanced at Killington to the betterment of the area and skiing as a sport?

   1. Long ski season. 2. Factual snow reports. 3. Ticket wickets.  4. Snowmaking system. 5. GLM (graduated length method of ski instruction) 6. Winch cats.  7. Gondola lifts.  8. All-inclusive ski-vacation package - lifts, lodging, food, equipment and lessons. 9. Cash registers with automated ticket printing. 10. Snowshed beginner slope.

How about the person(s) responsible for those innovations/advances?

1 and 2: Pres Smith. 3: Charlie Hanley.  4: See "R" below. 5: Smith and Ski School Director Karl Pfeiffer in concert with SKI magazine. 6: Killington staff participated in the testing of winch cats on Outer Limits.  7: Smith, lift ops staff.  8: Foster Chandler, marketing guru.  9. NCR specifically developed them for Killington in 1967 to speed up the ticket purchase process and for greater control.  10. Smith and "K" founders wanted a gentle slope for learners but some thought he was crazy.

R is for R & D (research and development).

Killington did not invent snowmaking, but when the first system was turned on in 1963, it blew up so Smith fired the company that had designed it and hired his own engineers. They and future staff developed their own (patented) snow guns and an extensive snowmaking system (88 miles of pipe, 1,500 snow guns).

By the 1980s, Killington's snowmaking prowess was well known in Europe! Later yet, a Killington subsidiary sold them to areas around the world.

S is for stellar.

Whether describing the views from the highest lift-served skiing in New England or from the 4,241-foot summit in summer (easily reached by K-1 ride and short hike), the Stash, the Snowsports School, Ski Patrol, or snowmaking system, Killington has "star power" best summed up as "stellar."

T is for terrain.

From the "gentlest" beginner slopes (Snowshed and Juggernaut) all the way up to offering the top pitches in the East (double-diamond blacks Outer Limits, Ovation, Devil's Fiddle, sections of Superstar, Cascade, and Downdraft), the big K's trails comprise "the greatest terrain variety in the East." And that quote came from a competitor!

Icing on the cake? You can ski/ride on Pico Mountain on a K ticket, adding another 52 trails and glades.

U is for Umbrella Bars.

New this year, the two Roaring Brook Umbrella Bars and expansive deck adjacent to the K-1 Lodge (replacing the pub and deck destroyed by Irene) offers a unique place to enjoy a light snack and libation with a view.

V is for Village.

SP Land Company plans for a ski village in the Snowshed and Ramshead areas enters the permitting stage soon and promises an exciting 20 years of development ahead.

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W is for Women Only Weekends and Weinbrecht.

Killington regular Donna Weinbrecht and top resort female coaches lead a special women's program February 10-12 for intermediate to expert skiers. Donna, the world's first Olympics Moguls Gold Medalist, honed her bump skills on Outer Limits, noting, "After OL, I wasn't afraid of any moguls course."

X is for "X-rated."

Whether it's the corkscrew top of Devil's Fiddle, the outrageous steeps of Ovation ("steepest terrain possible in East before avalanches set in"), or the challenge of the 500-foot superpipe with 22-foot-tall walls, Killington offers an extraordinary extravaganza of exciting experiences.

Y is for Yurt. 

You can enjoy a groomer-drawn sleigh ride from Snowshed to the Ledgewood Yurt where a five-course fine-dining "experience" awaits your inner gourmet.

Z is for Zaugg.

A Zaugg pipecutter implement gets those walls perfect in the superpipe.

It's also for "zee end" although "Big K" adventures truly are endless with a host of events and an entire town to explore!

Tagged: killington, A to Z