Q&A with Mike Solimano

Editor’s note: The Mountain Times receives many questions from readers every week about Killington Resort and Pico Mountain operations. In order to best answer some of the most common questions we will pose them directly to Mike Solimano, president and general manager for Killington Resort and Pico Mountain, who has agreed to respond in an honest and timely fashion. Here are a few concerns many residents have raised recently:

MT: How deep is the Super Star snow “whale”? It seems to tower above the lift.

Mike Solimano: We’ve been calling it Mount Superstar for some time now, and it’s the biggest pile of snow I’ve ever seen up there. The trail has over 10 foot base depths from top to bottom, but the mountain of snow on top is closer to 30 feet tall. When you’re on top you can see the big mounds on either side of Gateway, and those were made just by wind blowing snow off Mount Superstar. We haven’t started farming from those piles yet, but there is a lot of snow up there that will keep the trail fresh for a long time to come.

MT: We’ve noticed new partnerships springing up, including the newly announced M.A.X. Pass allowing Killington and Pico skiers/riders access to 22 resorts. Are big corporate partnerships the new norm in the industry?

MS: There are a lot of corporate partnerships out west and I think we will continue to see more in this part of the country moving forward. In the past resorts typically only did partnerships with other resorts within their own ownership groups. I think many resorts have now realized that they don’t necessarily need to have common ownership to create partnerships that add value to consumers and give them an advantage in the marketplace. We are very excited about the new M.A.X. Pass and think it is a pretty compelling product for the “non-committed” skier in the northeast (meaning the person who does not ski enough at any one resort to find value in a season pass). For anyone who wants to ski several resorts on the east and then take a trip out west, the value of the M.A.X. Pass is unmatched.

MT: Now that we’re well into April, we can’t help but look forward to summer! Many have commented about seeing metal sitting at the resort, assumably for new infrastructure? Others have seen small promotions for the new activities, but are unsure if it’s really happening. Can we get an update on the progress and timeline for the Mountain Coaster, Ropes Course, zipline, mountain bike trails initiative?

MS: I’m really excited about the new projects, and ultimately new energy coming to Killington this summer. We’re continuing to add mountain biking trails for all abilities through Phase Two of our 5-year plan with Gravity Logic, plus we’re moving our retail headquarters and bike shop to Snowshed Lodge, and adding a BOGS hiking center with rental boots, poles, you name it! We’re also going to run the Snowshed Quad every day this summer instead of just weekends, because the response from last summer was so positive. We’ll be breaking ground on new attractions in just a few weeks, likely in mid-May, and will be erecting a four-story ropes course from the metal you’ve seen stacked across from the hotel. There will be a 5,000-square-foot maze under the ropes course, plus we’re adding a soaring thrill ride, an alpine coaster and a few other family-friendly attractions. Biking, hiking, the Peak Lodge and most of the attractions should be ready for opening day on June 26, but the coaster will debut a little later in the summer, right now the plan is to have it operational by August 1. Hopefully everyone in the community has picked up a summer 2-for-1 card at the resort and will put it to good use checking out the new amenities when operations kick off in late June.

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