By Karen D. Lorentz
Editor’s Note: This part three in a series of articles on Killington hosting the Audi FIS World Cup Women’s Giant Slalom and Slalom races on Nov. 26-27, 2016.
“It’s a dream come true,” commented Pres Smith when asked about Killington hosting the upcoming World Cup events.
Reached at his home in Florida, Smith noted he had always wanted to host a World Cup event at Killington and that race trails had been designed to meet FIS homologation standards but the company (S-K-I Ltd.) was sold before the area was able to host one. “This is an exciting event is for the resort and skiing in the East,” he told the Mountain Times.
With Powdr Corp support and leadership provided by Herwig Demschar, an organizing committee is now preparing for all the myriad logistics involved in hosting this November’s World Cup race. While the core group includes professionals with big event experience (World Cup, Olympics, etc.), members of Killington Resort and Powdr’s management teams, and community members, there are many other players who join various meetings, thus greatly expanding the planning team.
Meetings often focus on a specific topic like one held last week to discuss safety and security. Killington Town Manager Deborah Schwartz and Town Police Chief Whit Montgomery worked together to bring in Richard Cogliano, who is with the Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security under the Vermont Department of Public Safety, to chair the Sept. 23 meeting. It centered on making sure the event provides a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone, Schwartz stated. Representatives of the Rutland Regional Ambulance Service, State Police, and the Vermont Agency of Transportation were among many others from the town, various agencies, and resort.
Noting the combined efforts, Schwartz said, “Yes, it does take a village,” to host an event of this magnitude.
A vital part of “the village” are the many volunteers required to assist in the hosting of the World Cup.
Meg Laferriere Horrocks has experience and expertise working for athletic events of this stature. She was eager to take on the World Cup and began last March, first assisting with general administrative support and then transitioning to management of the volunteers.
While organizing some 350-400 volunteers for a variety of duties and shifts could be seen as a logistical nightmare, Horrocks is well-suited for the challenge
A Vermonter, she moved to Colorado after graduation from UVM and worked for the Vail Valley Foundation, beginning a career in events hosting. Her VVF duties included assisting the director of competitions with the Birds of Prey World Cup Men’s event, a test event in 1997 that led to hosting more World Cups and the 1999 World Alpine Championships and expanded responsibilities for Horrocks.
She became a Sport Team coordinator for the 2002 Olympics, co-ordinating all the volunteers who were involved in the field of play at the Deer Valley freestyle and slalom events.
She also did freelance work for the U.S. ski and Snowboard Team (USST) and was a contract employee for the Park City June 2005 U.S. Cycling Federation National Championship, traveling back to the event since she and her husband Tom had moved to Vermont to raise their family.
Horrocks was involved in the Pico Ski Club for four years, continued her contract work with the USST, co-ordinated the volunteers for the Killington Stage Race one year, and also works part-time for RRMC’s Rutland Health Foundation.
The call for volunteers went out last July and close to 600 applications were filed for the anticipated positions.
“We asked for different types of information so we could match volunteers to the positions we need to fill,” Horrocks explained. Among the myriad questions were: are you familiar with the area? do you have ties to Vermont Alpine Racing Association or USSA? are you an athlete? a former Killingon employee? willing to work in adverse weather? able to lift 25 pounds; speak a foreign language?
Answers allowed her to work with others to sort through where people could best serve. In addition to matching talents with needs, they also had to see how many days a person could work so that the many shifts could all be covered.
Currently letters are being sent to volunteers ascertaining an assignment and commitment to fulfilling that role.
The next step involves a general orientation session, which is required of all volunteers.
Follow up meetings with the volunteers’ respective team leaders and team will handle more specifics of duties, Horrocks noted.
Volunteers have different dates that they will begin duties, starting with the race crew Nov. 13 and many more beginning the Thursday or Friday before the events.
12 teams of volunteers
The biggest need was for 130 volunteers to work on the race crew. Those volunteers needed to have race experience and expertise and will be working with race crew team leader Chuck Hughes. Horrocks noted they were able to fulfill that need with qualified candidates. (Not only do these volunteers assist in venue and course construction, maintenance, side-slipping, shoveling, raking, and B-net installation, among other duties, they must be expert Alpine skiers, capable of negotiating a steep, icy course while carrying equipment and able to deal with inclement weather.)
A very different technical expertise is required for the information technology support team, which will assist the IT department with basic PC trouble shooting and hardware support as well as provide basic support for event attendees.
Volunteers who work in Team Services will have duties ranging from welcoming and registering national ski teams and providing administrative support to attending to the athlete lounge and wax cabin as well as serving as liaisons between athletes, coaches and the organizing committee.
Volunteers on the Awards Services team will assist with ceremonies throughout the event, including set-up, presenting awards to athletes, security, and tear down.
Those working on the media center operations team will assist in a variety of duties, ranging from registration of international and national press corps to set-up/tear down of the work spaces at the Ramshead Media Center.
Other teams include: Hospitality Services, Race Administration and Operations, Registration and Accreditation Operations, Security Services, Special Workforce and All-Around Team, Spectator Services, and Volunteer Headquarters Operations.
“I think it’s a significant coup for this community and the resort to host the first World Cup to be held in the East in 25 years. It speaks to the collective effort of the town, residents, KPAA, and resort to make us a contender for this race,” Town Manager Schwartz commented.
Noting the World Cup reputation for attracting a huge following, she said bringing more positive attention to the area is helpful in efforts to move to a four-season resort. “Being relatively new to the community, it’s a wonderful introduction and I am pleased to head up town efforts,” Schwartz added.
Rob Megnin, Killington’s marketing director, said bringing the World Cup back to the East is significant for not only the resort but also for the Northeast ski industry, the sport, racing and exposing people to the mountain lifestyle.
“It’s important to me to find critical mass in terms of entertainment,” he stated, noting the O.A.R. concert and the autograph party with the U.S. Ski Team are “free post-race events on Saturday.”
The three ski films being shown Thursday through Saturday evenings enhance the “combination of the activities and music.” The latter is seen as a significant part of introducing skiing and the resort to the world, especially the Millennial market which is crucial to the ski industry’s future, Megnin notes.
Hosting a successful event has ramifications for bringing the World Cup back to the East in future years, Megnin added. Stressing that hosting an event of this stature does indeed require a team effort, he said, “It’s an absolute truth that it takes a village” to host a World Cup.
World Cup planning continues, volunteer teams organized
By Karen D. Lorentz