By Karen D. Lorentz updated Thu, Dec 26, 2013 06:14 PM
Powdr Corporation, the parent company of Killington Pico Ski Resort Partners, has donated $50,000 to the Killington Mountain School (KMS) for a project that creates a vastly improved and expanded competitions venue on the Highline Trail at the mountain.
Killington Mountain School is an independent school serving some 75 students in grades 6-12 as well as post-graduate student-athletes. KMS offers training programs in alpine racing, mogul skiing, snowboarding, free skiing, and cycling at Killington Resort along with an academic program at its campus on Killington Road.
Killington President and General Manager Mike Solimano presented the gift to KMS on behalf of Powdr CEO John Cumming just before the holidays.
Head of School Tao Smith said the gift was a reflection of Cumming’s commitment to youth training programs of KMS and the Killington Ski Club (KSC) as well as an investment in the sport’s future. “I spoke with him this summer about the project, and he was interested in helping with local opportunities as well as with opportunities that will have a broad impact on the sport. He sits on the board of trustees for US Ski Association and projects like this are important to him for their many impacts,” Smith said. “This generous donation showcases his commitment to our local youth programs.”
1,200 regional athletes train and compete on the new Highline Trail each year, Smith said. “KMS and KSC kids will use it as well plus competitors in the 15 events hosted here annually. Plus there are other competitions like the Ski Bum Series, so allowing for repeat users, we estimate about 1,200 different individuals will benefit,” he said.
The Highline project has three phases. Phase one involved a major trail widening and installation of trail fencing, which was done in September. Contractor Craig Mosher widened and leveled the bottom half of Highline, providing expanded width for Alpine training and for a new mogul lane. KMS will add air bag jump practice as well as snowboarding and moguls training on Highline this season.
Phase two improvements will start next spring. Smith noted they include building ramps for the air bag jumps, which will allow them to be used year round. In addition, the knoll at the top pitch will be blasted and graded and new snowmaking will be installed. Towers for lights and timing apparatus will also be added and buildings for judging and timing will be constructed.
Phase three will involve adding a surface lift – a Pomalift or T-bar – so that more training runs can be taken, Smith said, noting additional fundraising will be needed for future projects.
“KMS needed an updated training venue. Due to changes in equipment and technology, rules now require more athlete protection measures in a training venue plus the widening will allow us to get more kids on hill.” Smith said, when asked how the project came about.
Additionally, Smith said it takes two weeks to build a course for freestyle and moguls and that the school often used different trails to do this. “There was a need for a permanent mogul venue and widening Highline allows us to have a bump venue there all season long,” he noted.
The improved Highline will host slalom and giant slalom training and competitions as well as providing a mogul venue. “Plus at bottom we’ll build some snowboarding and free-skiing features so all four disciplines will be accommodated at this hill,” Smith added.
The course will be open to the public when training and racing are not underway and will host other resort races like the locals’ Ski Bum series. Smith also hopes that Highline will be able to host some upper level competitions such as Nor Ams. Putting lights on Highline would allow for some cool events such as the hosting of a men’s Nor Am slalom at night on a New Year’s Eve, he said, noting such exciting events could draw new spectators to the sports.
The phase one and two will cost well over $600,000, Smith said. Last summer $390,000 was raised. “Our goal this winter is to raise $250,000, and Powdr’s contribution will go a long way toward that with the match,” Smith noted. “All this was made possible by the generosity of an anonymous donor who wants to improve the quality of the training opportunities offered at Killington and modernize the protection/safety features for athletes. The donor made a large donation and a challenge grant, offering to match dollar for dollar up to $275,000 in donations to make this happen,” Smith explained.
In making the presentation of the $50,000 Powdr donation, Solimano commented, “We are lucky to have KMS teaching young athletes on our mountain, and we support their long-term goals of growing educational programs while improving athlete safety.”