By Karen D. Lorentz
Killington Ambassadors are dedicated volunteers who enjoy skiing or snowboarding so much that they commit to 21 days of wearing the green jacket, ready to help guests have fun. Ambassador Program Manager Pete Duffy noted, “They are passionate about the mountain, the sport, and they want to help people.”
In 2021 Norm Lash was voted Ambassador of the Year by his peers, a great honor as there can be many nominations among the 200-plus ambassadors each year. Some of the things mentioned about him included:
- “He is always looking out for the welfare of the guests as well as fellow ambassadors.”
- “He gets things done when asked and doesn’t look for any rewards for doing it.”
- “He takes the time to check in with ambassadors in his area to make sure they are okay. He answers any questions they might have and will try to get the answer if he doesn’t know it.”
- “He’s willing to put in many more days than are required.”
- “He always has a smile, although often hidden by his large mustache.”
Some readers who don’t ski may know Lash because he’s been a Rutlander for a long time, or they probably (like me) bought furniture over the years from Hy-Way Furniture, which later became Sofas and More.
Lash was born and brought up in Rutland, graduated from Rutland High School in 1969, and received a B.S. from UVM in political science in 1973.
Asked how he got into the furniture business, Lash said, “After college and some work, my best friend and I took a trip across Canada and the United States, camping and staying in youth hostels the entire five months. Upon returning home, I became involved ‘on a temporary basis’ in the family furniture business to help my parents out. Temporary turned out to be almost 40 years!”
Mountain Times: What is your history with skiing?
Norm Lash: I started skiing at Killington in 1960-61 and learned to ski in group lessons at Killington and Pico. My first season pass to Killington was $25, which was a special for Vermonters under 12. I also cleared tables in the K-1 Lodge on weekends for two winters.
MT: Why did you become an ambassador?
NL: I became a Killington Ambassador 10 years ago at the urging of two friends Leslie Brenner and Ken Kierstein, who were ambassadors. They thought that I would like the program. They sure were right! I like to tell everyone that it’s the best part of retirement.
MT: What is your position or duties as an ambassador?
NL: Currently, I’m usually a Hill Captain or Overseer which involves not only responding to our guests’ needs, but also making sure that all ambassadors get off the mountain safely at the end of the day.
The hill captain and overseer are also responsible for relaying all reports from ambassadors of possible codes or transport needs to dispatch. On occasion I also lead mountain tours for our guests, which is always a lot of fun.
MT: Any special mentors or influences?
NL: I’ve been very fortunate to work with ambassador Mickey Cahill over the years and he has become my mentor. He truly exemplifies what an ambassador should be! [Grizz, who became legendary in Killington circles, built the ambassador program to become something envied by other ski areas, and Pete Duffy, who now runs the program has modernized it and added his professionalism to constantly improve it.]
MT: What do you enjoy about your work as an ambassador?
NL: I particularly enjoy working with a fantastic group of people in the ambassador program —they make it such a great experience for me. As an ambassador, I also truly enjoy being part of the Killington team. Since Powdr purchased Killington, and especially since Mike Solimano became president, it has constantly improved and become much more guest focused, which I think is great.
MT: Any meaningful stories you can share?
NL: One day, when I was not on duty, I was skiing down Cascade with a friend, when I saw a young man, skis off, on the side of the trail looking panicked. Upon skiing over to him to see if he needed help, he informed me that he and his buddy were skiing down Upper Downdraft and that his friend fell and slid under the rope across lower Downdraft and just kept going and was unresponsive to his shouts. I immediately phoned dispatch, who had ski patrol come down and help and all ended well.
A couple of weeks later, as I was walking through the parking lot, the fellow yelled to his friend: “That’s the guy who saved you.”
We all got a chuckle out of that. I’m easily recognizable by my handlebar mustache.
MT: What do you do when not volunteering as an ambassador?
NL: I participate in Ski Bum Races at both Killington and Pico. I’m not great, but I have a really good time doing them. I’m also a regular member of the 100 Club [skiers who ski 100 or more days in a year]. I live in Rutland with my wife Robin and dog Tucker. I’m currently president of The Housing Trust of Rutland County, a local nonprofit. In the off-season, I do a lot of mountain biking. Our family does not live locally, but we do make efforts to get together.
MT: What would you say to someone thinking of moving to Vermont?
NL: This is a fantastic area to live if one loves the outdoors. All through the pandemic, the beauty and activities Vermont is most noted for were pretty much available in a healthy environment.
MT: Anything else you’d like to share?
NL: Being here and a part of Killington is living the dream!