Local News

Pico’s $440K investment in snowmaking will making a big difference

Courtesy Killington Resort
Pico is getting new snowmaking on the A-Slope trail.

Pico Mountain has new snowmaking capabilities on A Slope ski trail. This project is part of continued improvements to the snowmaking system at Pico Mountain and was made possible in large part by community contributions facilitated by the Pico Ski Education Foundation, a nonprofit with a goal to help maintain an affordable organized ski racing program for community families and athletes.    

The project includes 2,800 feet of air and water pipe, and 45 hydrants on A Slope trail. It was completed in October 2022, in time for the 2022-2023 season. The project represents a $440,000 capital investment in the facility, including a $125,000 donation from POWDR and Killington Resort and fundraising from the PSEF Foundation to cover the remaining costs. 

“The support we’ve received on all of these projects since Powdr came in has been phenomenal,” said PSEF board member and retired Pico coach Thomas Aicher. “To them, it wasn’t about season pass sales, it was about growing the sport and seeing something successful that they wanted to support. They saw and understood the importance of reliable and early training space and occasional early morning lifts for training. The conversation with them has been about how we get more kids to do this. Our program has benefitted from their ownership and investments for sure.”  

A-Slope has been a very important historic training venue for youth skiing at Pico and all through mid-Vermont. 

“There was a J Bar there in the ’50s and 60s and a T-bar in the ’70s and ’80s and it was a very busy training and race venue,” said Aicher. “Over the course of a couple ownerships and investments elsewhere at Pico, it became overgrown.”

The group looked at reinstalling T-bar access, but it was cost prohibitive. Instead, A Slope training area off the Little Pico Triple lift has been made more accessible with the completion of the A Slope Cut Off trail, constructed by the Belden Company in the summer 2021. Together, these additions have nearly doubled the junior race training facilities at Pico Mountain.  

“This whole project is so important to our ski racing program,” said Pico Ski Club Program Director Lori McClallen. “A Slope is one of the best trails for our youngest racers. The whole project started from widening and regrading A Slope Cut Off, which made the venue accessible for our beginner racers. Prior to the improvements made to the cutoff, the upper part of the trail was more appropriate for an advanced skier. This improvement, coupled with the removal of trees and brush on the lower section, will enable us to utilize various teaching tools to help our athletes develop proper turn shape and to learn the basic fundamentals of ski racing. The width and gradual terrain will help build confidence in our younger athletes but also allow our older athletes to continue to strengthen their technical skills on consistent terrain. Snowmaking completes the venue providing us with a consistent surface to be used all season long. The A Slope venue is critical for developing our PSC athletes on age-appropriate terrain and it will help create efficient training sessions for our program.”   

The Pico Ski Club Racing Program trains about 175 athletes in four age groups over the course of the season, continuing on Pico Mountain’s long history of youth ski racing, which dates back to the 1950s. 

Pico became a formidable locale thanks in large part to Anne and Joe Jones, who organized the skiing program there and were instrumental in growing the Pico Ski Club and developing programs to involve young children in the sport. So, when the Pico Ski Education Foundation began its fundraising campaign to restore and improve the race facilities at Pico for today’s aspiring ski racers, it was only fitting that they decided to do so in honor of the Joneses.

“We seem to have the most success when we embrace our history,” said Aicher. “A Slope always had kids racing and training, it was such an important venue. When we started to talk about the importance of this venue for the future, we were led right back to Anne and Joe Jones and the kids they led boot packing the trail. We were inspired to name this whole campaign after Anne and Joe Jones. They kind of invented youth ski racing as we know it today.”

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