Vermont means cold, and cold means winter, and winter means snow. Right?
Well, after last winter’s lackluster snowfall, no one is sure of anything anymore.
In 2016, Killington Resort has received a total of 70 inches of snow from January through today. Twelve of those inches fell on Oct. 28 and made up the largest individual snow event of 2016 thus far, according to onthesnow.com.
The previous highest snow total of 2016 was an underwhelming seven inches on Feb. 26.
Killington opened to season pass holders on Oct. 25, and to the general public on Oct. 26. Junior Ryder Hathaway has already taken advantage of the early season snow.
“I’ve gone three days on snow so far and it’s been really great,” he said. “The first week of Killington was super awesome, with a great mixture of natural and man made snow, which made for super great riding conditions.”
Although man-made snow helped Killington and other mountains make it through the winter last year, some help from Mother Nature would be greatly appreciated.
“I’m hoping this season will bring more natural snow, with plenty of pow days, and great times with all of my buddies,” Hathaway added.
But perhaps no one wants snow more than the Castleton University alpine and Nordic ski teams.
“Last season could not have been a worse time to try and start a Nordic ski team, but we survived,” said Castleton’s Nordic skiing head coach Marty Maher. He explained that the team was able to train at Mountain Top in Chittenden and in Middlebury last season, but never on the rail trail here on campus.
“Our first few races last year were relay races on shorter courses due to lack of snow. We are just hoping that we will not have to go through that again this year,” he said. “Everybody in the east was in the same situation and when we did get a little more snow to ski on, we lost a race due to the cold temperatures.”
Eight new recruits joined five returners for the team’s second season, and they started dry land training using roller skis in mid-October. They have a goal of making it to Nationals in Bend, Oregon in March, which will be made easier with natural snow to train on.
Freshman Carley Patch, a new recruit on the women’s Nordic team, is looking forward to improving as an athlete and competing at the collegiate level, which will be made easier by a good winter.
“It better snow or else,” Patch joked when being asked what her hopes are for this winter’s weather.
Members of the Castleton alpine ski team are also hoping for a snowy winter.
Many have skied at Killington already, but the team as a whole has not trained on snow yet as there is still limited terrain open, said head coach Chris Eder.
“Last season our skiers didn’t really have an opportunity to get out on snow much in November or even December, so we had a lot of catching up to do prior to our first collegiate races in early January,” Eder said adding that he hopes the early-season cold temperatures will allow more mountains to open before the semester is over. “Regardless, it is nice to have this opportunity for our skiers to get out on their own and put some miles under their skis.”
Cold temperatures are especially desired early this season because Killington will host the Audi FIS Ski World Cup Ladies Giant Slalom and Ladies Slalom events Nov.26-27, featuring the world’s elite women skiers.
“The last time an eastern ski area hosted an FIS World Cup race was in 1991 at Waterville Valley in New Hampshire. Having continued cold temperatures for snowmaking and natural snow is crucial to make this happen,” Eder said. “This will be huge for ski racing in the east and Vermont.”
In December, Killington will also host the Special Olympics USA training camp where athletes from across the United States will train before heading to Austria for the World Games.