Skiers feeling the itch

A foot of snow works wonders in making mountain-goers happy. Prompted by Mother Nature, Killington Ski Resort opened its slopes two weeks ahead of schedule on Nov. 2. After receiving 11 inches of natural snow at the mountain’s peak, top-of-the-line snow blowers did the rest in creating a solid 20-inch base and over 1,700 feet of vertical terrain.

In the time leading up to Killington’s opening, the “skier’s itch” was almost too much to handle for some. Students and professors alike were feeling the change in climate, begging for a blanket of white. With snow falling twice in the weeks before Halloween, many were hoping it would stick so riding could begin.

“I’ve been looking forward to it since the end of last season, of course,” said Tom McGee, a sophomore at Castleton.

With teasing temperatures hopping between mild and bitterly cold over the last few weeks, it would have been hard to predict that the mountain would open so early.

Although Killington boasts having just under 1,500 snow guns, the company made it clear early on that it had no intention of opening early.

But that didn’t stop an email from being sent out on Oct. 31 – Halloween — informing anyone who cared that Killington would be open that weekend.

The word soon got out and hundreds of die-hard skiers and snowboarders made their way to the slopes on that Sunday.

The trails were a first-day frenzy. Smiles on the faces of snow bunnies were a given, judging by the beautiful blue skies overhead.

Unlike any average opening day, Nov. 1 was crisp, cool, and sunny — the ideal spring day, five months ahead of time. Even loyal fans of other area mountains, including Sugarbush and Okemo, beamed excitedly as the K-1 gondola brought them to the top for their first runs of the day.

When asked if Sugarbush had opened yet, one resident replied, “No man, that’s why we’re here!”

Another felt it necessary to call one of his buddies to let him know about the beautiful day he’d surely regret missing.

After a great start to the season, snow lovers’ expectations are hopeful.

“It’s gonna be sweet! I’m excited because I set up my schedule for senior year so that I can go to the mountain during the day and return for my classes at night,” said Nicole Adams, a Castleton senior.

Sarah Parker, both a Castleton student and Killington employee made it up to the mountain for opening day.

“It was pretty sweet! It got icy towards the end, but it was a good experience,” Parker said.

Through the eyes of a Killington employee, Parker also noted that the season would be a step in the right direction.

“The mountain is way more open to the snowboarding population. The divide between skiers and snowboarders is diminishing. As someone who does both, it’s really cool to see,” she said.

Although the mountain offers a desireable escape from the chaos of student life for some, others engage in alternative winter sports. Adrenaline-nuts find solace in the slippery slopes surrounding campus.

Jacob McLaughlin asked jokingly, “I sled, does that count for anything?”

On a more serious note, he points out that although many love the snow, it poses problems for some.

“I’m a commuter, so snow means rough travel in my mind,” explained McLaughlin.

The approaching winter season is the highlight of conversation as of late. Anticipation is heightened as skiers and riders alike prepare themselves for winter’s upcoming adventures.

When playfully prodded for her visions of the’08-’09 season, Parker responded with a chuckle.

“A lot of time crunching so I can spend more time having fun! I plan to make memories, and potentially injuries!” she said.

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