For the past 38 years, Vermont’s Killington Ski Resort has been the first ski area to open for the season. A dip in temperatures the past week has allowed Sugarbush ski resort to initiate snowmaking operations, potentially threatening Killington’s long-standing title.
According to Killington Managing Director Allen Wilson, though, Killington has “no plans” of giving up their title. Last year, Killington opened on October 4th and didn’t close until June 22nd.
“Opening” is a relative term. Many view Killington’s rush to open first as a marketing ploy, which is exactly what it is. For example, last year, Killington did open a portion of one trail on October 4th, but it closed almost immediately afterwards. The resort didn’t re-open until later during the month
Nonetheless, Killington’s impressive and aggressive snowmaking allows them to boast one of the longest ski seasons in North America. Conditions stay good well into the spring and Killington receives plenty of natural snowfall to help out. Last year, over 300” of natural snow fell on the resort. Most Colorado ski resorts receive an average annual snowfall of 300-350”.
In the very competitive ski industry, ski resorts find they have to offer significant new features each year to vie for skier and snowboarder visits. Last year, Killington added six new lifts, five new trails, and a new family center. Over the next two years, Killington will be spending $50 million to enhance the resort.
A state-of-the-art gondola will whisk visitors to the top of Killington Peak in six minutes. (Several years ago, Killington replaced an aging gondola with the new Skyeship gondola, the world’s first heated gondola. But the Skyeship didn’t go all the way to the top of Killington Peak as the old one had, so the new gondola should be a welcome addition.)
Killington will be linked with nearby Pico Mountain, offering seven interconnected mountains of skiing. New hotels and restaurants will also be added. Some older lifts will be replaced with newer ones, and new terrain for snowboarders will also be added.
Killington’s ambitious plans will undoubtedly preserve their reputation as the most popular New England ski resort.
And Killington’s ski season might start any week now, as soon as they can get some white stuff to come out of their snow guns. But don’t pack your ski boots just yet - the “real” season is probably at least a month away.
M. Scott Smith is the founder and Editor of DCSki. Scott loves outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, kayaking, skiing, and mountain biking. He is an avid photographer and writer.
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