With snowliage and high fives all around, nothing could beat the North American opening of ski season. And Killington kicked it off in style. —Lisa Lynn
It started last week when the National Weather Service reported dropping temperatures throughout the week, a chance of snow showers on Saturday and an accumulation of as much as 10 inches in southern Vermont.
The internet went crazy. Every little flake that fell fueled it, got posted on Instagram and was held like precious gem in someone’s hand before it melted.
But not all melted. On Saturday Vermont awoke to one of the most beautiful days I can ever remember. Foliage was full on with shades of plum, pumpkin, and burnt orange lining the lower elevations and up high, the sweet line of white crusting the trees.
Rock skis and boards came out from Jay to Mount Snow. People laid down first tracks like taggers will throw down graffiti, not just earning their turns but owning them. Any trail with enough snow to make a track and enough grass to save your base was fair game: Giddy high fives, huge hugs, grins all around.
But nothing could compare to opening day at Killington. As Sunday River began broadcasting its snowmaking and intent to open on Monday, Killington mobilized its considerable weaponry. The guns went full blast. Game on, boys.
Close to 700 people showed, “Talk about exceeding expectations,” said spokesperson Michael Joseph.
The first person I saw download off the K1 Express gondola was caked in snow and grinning ear to ear. Diane had woken up at 4:00 a.m. in eastern Long Island and drove six hours, took the gondola and the interminable Peak Walkway to ride the two North Ridge runs that were open. At the bottom of the North Ridge triple music was blasting and hosts were pouring confetti on the liftlines.
Skiing those two runs was a goggle-clearing experience, something like shuffling through an Antarctic car wash. But the constant spray kept the trails from turning into the usual early-season white ribbons of ice. By 2:00 p.m. soft moguls had formed. Free lunch was being served in the base lodge and mountain bikes were still circling the lower mountain trails. The stoke of early season was on.
P.S. Perhaps the only thing that could have made that day better happened next. Heading back north, my husband and I stopped to watch The Spartan FittestBride race, a made-for-TV event put on by Spartan Race founder Joe DeSena at his Pittsfield compound. Thirty fiancées lined up at the start, ready to race for a free wedding at DeSena’s gorgeous Riverside Farm.
The prize, an easy $40,000 value, was equivalent to the prize money for third place at the Boston Marathon. The race, a 2.5 mile trail run up 1,000 feet of vertical and 878 steps and back down, set off in three groups of 10. Contestants, some dressed in wedding gowns, had come from around the country. They included Spartan elite World Champion finishers, triathletes and runners. In the end, only 12.5 seconds separated the winner from second place. It was a surprise upset by a local who has only done one other running race this year. Polly Lynn, editor of Killington’s The Mountain Times newspaper, took home the grand prize.
My husband and I were the ones who cheered the loudest. Polly Lynn is my stepdaughter.