By Karen D. Lorentz
Surprisingly, both Brad Leabourne and his wife Megan Canty were born and raised in Rutland and also have worked at Killington their entire careers.
Both Leabourne and Canty learned to ski as youngsters. [See the March 12 Mountain Times for profile on Canty and more on how they met.]
Born in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, Brad Leabourne’s family moved to Clifton Park, New York, when he was 2 years old. When he was 8, his mom and dad taught him to ski at nearby West Mountain.
“It was a family affair – mom, dad, my two sisters and myself loaded up in the family station wagon every weekend. Mom and Dad started skiing first, and then soon after got all three of us kids involved,” he recalls of a time that his parents imparted the joy and love of skiing. Serendipitously, it was also a time that started him on the road to a satisfying career in the ski industry.
After graduating from Shenendehowa High School in 1990, Leabourne earned a degree in business from Green Mountain College in Poultney in 1994. During this time, he continued to ski, including at Killington.
Q&A with Brad Leabourne
Mountain Times: Why did you move to Vermont?
Brad Leabourne: Original plans after college had me moving out west to work in the ski industry. Plans fell through about a month before I was to move. I called a friend who was living in Killington at the time, and he had an extra room. The rest is history.
MT: How did you get to your current job?
BL: When I first moved up in 1994, I bounced around between a couple of different jobs. At a bike race I met Dave Whitaker who was running the ski repair shop at Snowshed. We became fast friends, and he offered me a job tuning skis. I worked nights 2 to 10 and skied all day. It was one of the best jobs ever. I worked there through 2005.
I had always helped out at events for extra O.T. [overtime pay]. At that time Thom Gilbert was running events/racing for Killington Resort. He approached me about coming over to the events world. I started in the fall of 2005. At that point we were doing smaller events, and through the years we took on larger ones, and now we are doing the World Cup! Through the years the job has morphed into what it is now –Terrain and Event Operations.
MT: What are your duties and responsibilities?
BL: I deal with KMS/KSC [Killington Mountain School and Killington Ski Club] and the Pico Ski Club for all of their hill space training needs as well as supporting them throughout the season, helping with and coordinating venue building.
As for Killington Resort events, I am the liaison between the event and the Mountain as well as the mountain operations group.
MT: What’s special or unique about your job?
BL: Sunrises and sunsets – my job has me out on the hill early and here after the crowds go home. I’ve seen some unbelievable ones.
MT: Any challenges?
BL: One of our biggest challenges is the weather – probably the only variable we don’t control. You can plan an event perfectly, but in the end if Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate, it could pucker the event.
MT: Any experiences that were personally significant?
BL: After almost a year of planning, watching Shiffrin win the World Cup the first year 2016.
Being a part of the crew that went down to work on the Big Air event at Fenway. We got to see Fenway from a cool and different perspective.
MT: What’s the greatest change you’ve seen in winter sports?
BL: Shaped skis! I remember skiing on a 207, now it’s a 177.
MT: How often do you get out on the mountain?
MT: Any influences or mentors?
BL: I’d have to say my dad. Watching him work from an early age is definitely where I got my work ethic from. I can’t thank him enough; it has gotten me to where I am today. Thanks, Dad!
MT: How do you spend your time outside of work?
BL: Either on my bikes or hiking with wifey and the dogs.
MT: How would you define the mountain or ski town lifestyle?
BL: A very tight knit family. It never ceases to amaze me how we come together in the time of need, whether it is for the town or an individual, or even our pets. I wouldn’t want it any other way; everyone knows everyone and has each other’s back.
MT: What’s your take on winter? Vermont?
BL: I’m still here after 25 years, and I don’t see myself going anywhere else. That’s my take on winter and Vermont.
MT: What advice would you give someone who wanted to live/move here?
BL: Don’t expect to make millions, but expect to have the time of your life.
MT: Other sports, hobbies, spare time activities?
BL: Hanging with wifey, mountain biking, road biking, walking the dogs. I don’t sit still very well, so basically anything outside I can make work.
MT: Favorite book or movie, or music?
BL: Honestly I’m not big on reading books, trail maps, yes – books, not so much.
I can’t remember the last movie I saw. I enjoy listening to music; whenever I’m on a bike I have music in. My Pandora list is all over the board, anywhere from Frank Sinatra to Ozzy, to The Grateful Dead to Run DMC. Basically anything goes.
MT: Any favorite words of wisdom?
BL: Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, live life in the present.
Photo by Megan Canty