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October 30, 2014

Preston Leete Smith to be honored

Preston Leete Smith to be honored

KILLINGTON—On Saturday, Nov. 1, Killington founder Preston Leete Smith will be recognized for his ground-breaking contributions to the development of alpine skiing in New England and nationally at the resort he created from a trackless mountain. As the guest of honor at the New England Ski Museum’s annual meeting and Spirit of Skiing Award dinner, Smith will join ski luminaries like Stein Eriksen, Tyler Palmer, Penny Pitou and Tom Corcoran, who share the Museum’s distinctive citation, presented each fall to a person who embodies the celebrated and still-resonant phrase, “Skiing is not just a sport, it is a way of life.”
“When I was four years old, I was totally intrigued by winter,” Smith told the Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum in 2011. “Anything that was frozen or glittered in the sun in the winter was a turn-on to me. My uncle got me on skis about age four, little short skis, down in southern Connecticut where there was not much snow. I took it up again when I was 16 years old at Mohawk Mountain and I was hooked from then on…  Skiing is certainly one of the healthiest sports you can do in the winter. It involves strenuous exercise and is good for the mind exercising control over your body. It is by nature rhythmical. It is something you can do with friends and you can do with your family. How many points can you have about one sport? Everybody should have the opportunity to do it.”
Smith’s career was devoted to enhancing the opportunity for everyone to learn to ski through advances he personally pioneered or which his area innovated through his direction and support. They included teaching techniques like the Graduated Length Method; innovations in snowmaking systems which he shared with areas across the country; objective snow reports that replaced the subjective excellent-good-fair-poor judgments of 1950s condition reports; a guide for beginning skiers that succinctly introduced them to the sport; free skiing arrangements for local children; and the lengthy seasons for which the area is best known.
“He had one of the best management teams in the country, many of whom stayed with him for years,” noted Cal Conniff, former executive director of the National Ski Areas Association. “He instilled a strong sense of his philosophy in his employees, encouraging them to be creative and innovative in seeking ways to enhance the ski experience and introduce better ways to serve the public.”
The selection of Preston Smith as the Spirit of Skiing honoree comes in the year when the New England Ski Museum features, as its annual exhibit, “Green Mountains, White Gold: Origins of Vermont Skiing” in its Franconia Notch headquarters.
The annual meeting awards dinner will be held at the Killington Grand Resort Hotel. The event begins with a reception at 5 p.m. and is open to the public, with tickets available for $80 per person or by table. Reservations may be made by calling the New England Ski Museum at 800-639-4181 or visiting www.newenglandskimuseum.com/37th-annual-meeting-spirit-of-skiing-award-to-preston-smith/.
All proceeds of the dinner support the mission of the non-profit organization to preserve skiing’s past in New England and elsewhere. The New England Ski Museum is located at Exit 34B, Interstate 93 next to the Cannon Mountain aerial tramway in Franconia Notch State Park.
The museum also maintains satellite exhibits at the Intervale Scenic Vista in Intervale, in the lobby of the Eastern Slope Inn in North Conway, and at the base lodge at Bretton Woods Mountain Resort in Bretton Woods. The museum is open daily 10 to 5 through the end of the 2015 ski season.

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  • I lived and worked in Killington during the 70’s and early 80’s–it was a exciting time watching Press S. Build Killington–driving up the access road in his old Chevy to the top of the Mountian to his office–everybody new who he was and he always had time to say Hi or wave–what a ski area he built!! Also watched him constantly battle the state buracrates at every turn-trying to build killington to the ski area it is today–he never quit-dispite all the obstacles the State of Vt. Threw at him!!! Killington is probably one of best employers in the state—Great Job Press— Bob Dion

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