Susan "Susi" Ayer-Barto was one of Winslow and Polly Ayer's four
children who grew up skiing at Killington on weekends and during
But while her siblings also did seasonal work stints at the ski
area, it is Susi who has carried on her dad's legacy of working for
the ski area.
Winslow B. Ayer was an early investor and active supporter for
the fledgling Killington. A Connecticut banker and later a
commercial real estate and financial consultant, he was an ardent
believer in Killington's future. He joined the board of directors
in June 1959, built the first chalet-styled vacation home, financed
the first restaurant and motel (the Skol Haus), and came up
regularly in the early years to help out on the mountain.
His wife Polly could be found volunteering her services at the
Killington Base Lodge cash register for many winters. The Ayers
were also warm hosts who gave numerous parties, and Winslow became
something of "a social director" for the early mountain
Ayer also made a sizable loan to the corporation when its credit
was not yet established. He financed the purchase of Killington's
first bulldozer and also helped arrange bank loans for the
Sherburne Corporation. He served on the board for 21 years, and was
one of the eight original board members when he passed away in
With the family passion for skiing and the mountain, it's not
too surprising that Susi's brothers John (race coach) and Winslow
(ski patrol) and sister Cacky (ski instructor) worked some winters
at the area and that Susi joined the ski area in 1971-72 as a ski
instructor. She worked in that position for eleven seasons before
transferring to the Alpine Training Center to become race
In 1984 she became a year-round employee and after a stint in
corporate offices became secretary to the skiing department, where
she worked with Leo Denis and Lee Patno among others and
co-ordinated the Killington Junior Recreational Program from 1988
She was the administrative assistant in the planning department
for three years and in 2000 transferred to the resort maintenance
department where she enjoys a host of challenging duties as
administrative assistant to the Manager of Base Area Maintenance
and Construction Jim Shands. In addition to working with
Resort Maintenance, Susi keeps her hand in on permitting and
planning for Mountain Operations.
As she looked back, she commented, "This is the beginning of my
42nd year working at Killington. I've seen so many changes that I
can't begin to remember them all. Going from a small public company
to one traded on the NASDAQ and then one on the New York Stock
Exchange, and then back to being privately held has been a real
learning experience. Change in ownership is not easy, but the
resort is hanging tight and getting better all the time!
"The biggest challenge in my job today is dealing with the sheer
size of the physical plant of the ski resort. Our department is
responsible for the care and maintenance of all the buildings from
Pico to Bear Mountain and everything in between, including
overseeing the construction of the new peak lodge."
Asked about her teaching days, Susi noted that among her fondest
memories are the many winters spent teaching mentally challenged
children from the [former] Brandon Training School. "I have never
seen such enjoyment or fulfillment from people learning to ski,"
Through the auspices of the Junior Program, she and fellow
instructors Ron Raymond, Paul Buhler, and Cacky Ayer, among others,
were "able to teach kids who would not otherwise have ever learned
to ski." Her involvement with the Brandon children also led to
helping out with one of the first Special Olympics to be held in
Vermont, another experience she cherishes.
She also volunteered to be a "special help" teacher for regular
ski school classes. This entailed working with people "who needed a
little extra attention in order to learn to ski. I guess I had a
lot of patience, but what I really enjoyed was the challenge of
finding the right words or means that would help someone understand
what they needed to do in order to start enjoying skiing.
"I still remember a blind woman I taught- those were the days
before the Vermont Adaptive program. It really was a privilege and
joy to help someone from Rutland ski the slopes she couldn't
"The ski school made tremendous efforts to teach any and
everyone to ski. We very rarely gave up on anyone. In the eleven
years I was with ski school, there were maybe a half dozen people
we could not teach to ski. And this was in the years when we were
teaching three classes a day and putting thousands of people
through the ski school each week!" she noted.
As a fully certified P.S.I.A. instructor, Susi also had her
share of upper level and mountain classes (for advanced skiers).
But of all the wonderful experiences she had with adult students,
one of the most meaningful to her was her "first adult GLM class.
At the end of the week, one of my students quit his job in Boston
and moved to Vermont because he fell in love with skiing. He still
lives here," she noted, proud that the results of that class live
Asked for her earliest memories, Susi said, "I was five years
old and there wasn't even a trail cut. I watched the area grow from
the "baby" Poma (for the beginner hill) and three "big" Pomalifts
to the Killington Chair and on from there. I have distinct memories
of the CCC Hut, Henry Biathrow's chili, and my mom running the cash
"I was so thrilled the day the Killington Chair opened to the
public! I remember being on the fifth chair and thinking that was a
big deal. There was a warming hut at the top then, and at one point
there was a warming hut at the top of the first Poma on Snowdon,
"For some reason, my dad was given a yellow Poma seat, which the
lift operators put on the baby Poma. I remember standing at the
bottom and letting all the regular Poma seats go by just so I could
ride on my dad's seat.
Another thrill was riding the first (regular) Poma! I was so
small that I would be lifted into the air when starting up the
steep part of the hill. The operators on the third Poma [Glades
Poma] used to hold the Poma bar back for some of us when we were
kids. By doing that as we were loading, the Poma would snap
forward, sending us off like a rocket!
In summing up the changes she has seen since those days, she
commented that her "dad was absolutely right to see a bright future
Although her husband Gary owns and operates the Cool Moose Café
in Ludlow-she does the books for him-Susi continues to work at
Killington. "I've stayed at Killington not only because this is my
home but because of the wonderful people I work with. We are
family," she said, adding "yes," she still skis.