The people of Killington and all of Vermont welcome you to the Audi International Ski Federation Alpine Ski World Cup. We are happy and honored you have chosen Killington for the Giant Slalom and Slalom and are especially excited to stand, for the very first time, among the great hosts of the World Cup skiing competition circuit which was last hosted in the Northeastern United States a quarter century ago. First held in 1966 in Portillo, Chile, and in 1967 in Berchtesgaden, Germany, the World Cup has taken place in 25 different nations in Europe, South and North America, and Asia.
The World Cup is unique in offering the world’s top skiers competition in a series of events in several disciplines, unlike the Winter Olympics. FIS Freestyle and the new series Snowboard Big Air were held outside of Milan, Italy, and recently the Slalom took place above the Arctic Circle in Levi, Finland where the tradition is to offer the winner the right to name a baby reindeer.
Alas, we do not have a reindeer to offer, but I personally invite the winner to name the rare and endangered baby Canada Lynx that is living in our forest. The beautiful, fluffy silver creature with black outlined, pointed ears and a short black tail has been sighted twice in Killington since its spring birth.
The mountains of Vermont have already turned white a time or two thanks to Mother Nature and our motto each winter is “Think Snow!” Up on our mountain and the Superstar Trail, temperatures have cooperated and our around-the-clock magicians (snowmakers) and Killington’s arsenal of snowmaking guns have made snow with qualities that are tailored to these events.
You may have heard that Vermont is the Green Mountain State because of the verdant mountain range that runs north and south. We are blessed to be surrounded by the beauty of the mountains and rivers, lakes and streams that keep us ever mindful of the environment and inspire us to “go green.”
Along with our connection with nature, we have a strong and growing organic farm movement. Boutique farms and gourmet cheese makers are starting up and doing well. For centuries Vermont had more cows than people, but now our population of 660,000 outnumbers our cattle (due to shrinking or consolidated dairy farms). Additionally, nearly 100 craft breweries have popped up all over the state and fine wineries in the Champlain Valley are growing flavorful grapes. Our “brave little state” may be one of the smallest in the USA, but it was courageous and green enough to challenge Monsanto in court.
We are home to artists, artisans, and craftsmen and women who create beautiful and useful works of art, often using natural resources such as our bountiful wood, clay, and stone. Our colonial era villages and towns, which are still intact, were built around central greens where strong, independent Vermonters have always come together to demonstrate a vibrant sense of community and democracy in action.
Sen. Bernie Sanders may have been born in Brooklyn but it is no wonder he chose to settle in Vermont decades ago — it’s a liberal and progressive state. Many intellectuals, artists, and writers such as Solzhenitsyn have sought refuge and freedom from persecution in Vermont, and our state has welcomed refugees and immigrants throughout its history who have brought diversity and contributed to our progress.
Many years ago as a student in Europe, I had the opportunity to ski Alpine mountains where the World Cup has been held. I skied over crevasses unaware of what “Achtung Spalten!” meant; my metal skis were stuck by lightening on top of Kitzsteinhorn; and a family took me in when I was stranded in a snowstorm near Zurich. People fed me and warmed me up in mountain huts across Europe. I’ve traversed the Andes and beheld Mt. Fuji in Japan, always treated with kindness and generosity.
Now we are delighted to welcome you, the very best of the best in the world of skiing, to our mountain in the heart of Vermont. May your time spent in Killington be successful, enjoyable, and filled with new friends and may you return once again!
Marguerite Jill Dye is an author, artist, and poet who lives in Vermont in the Killington Dream Ski Lodge her father and family built over the past half century. She paints en plein air around the world and walks the Camino de Santiago. Her book, “Treasures Along the Camino: An Artist’s Journey Across Spain” will come out in 2017.
Photo and column by Marguerite Jill Dye