After a January to remind everyone why we call this the ice coast, the skiers and snowboarders among us couldn’t be more excited about the three feet of snow Killington resort has gotten in the past week.
They all know there’s nothing else quite like that feeling of weightlessness floating through powder brings and they’re out in full force, taking advantage of these recent storms.
“It feels like you’re floating on a cloud,” said junior Sam Reiver, a smile lighting up his face as he described what it’s like to snowboard in this waist-deep pow.
But whether there are loads of powdery white snow to entice the masses or not, many Castleton students are regulars at Killington. For some, it’s the perfect way to kick loose and spend an enjoyable weekend now and then.
For others, it’s a way of life, a job, a therapy, and it’s a community.
“Everything I do is built around the mountain,” said John Everett, a senior at Castleton majoring in communication. Everett skis or snowboards at Killington almost every day, but that doesn’t mean he’s neglecting his work or studies. Killington may be his playground, but he also works in Killington’s media department and gets material for school projects from his time spent there.
Taking time to ski or snowboard as much as he wants to while still keeping up with his other obligations at work or school “definitely requires dedication,” he said.
“It’s not something just anyone could do … but it’s all about passion,” he said.
It’s a passion shared by many.
“I always knew I loved it,” said Reiver, a native of Philadelphia. “But I wasn’t able to go as much as I wanted, so that’s why I moved to Vermont.”
He chose to be somewhere near Killington because “it has everything – mellow trails, steep slopes, terrain parks… pretty much whatever you want,” he said.
Reiver considers any week he gets out to the mountain less than twice “a complete waste of a week,” he said. After a seizure caused him to lose his driver’s license, he relies on others for rides, making it difficult for him to get out there as often as he wishes he could.
Kyla Henry is another who craves Killington. When she isn’t in class or working at Darkside Snowboards, she’s usually out shredding the mountain, getting out at least three to five days a week.
“Snowboarding is the best and worst thing to happen to me as a student,” she said. On the one hand, it motivates her and keeps her moving and on-schedule, but on the other hand, she isn’t beyond ditching class for a great powder day, she said with a laugh.
Henry is one of a group of Castleton students who tear it up in Killington’s terrain parks and one of the only girls gutsy enough to send it on the park features.
“I think I got into park because it’s something different. Not a lot of girls do it,” said Henry, who describes herself as a little bit of an adrenaline junkie.
“The best part (about snowboarding) is being able to see progression every single day. No other sport is like that,” she said thoughtfully. “That feeling of success is what draws me back. I love it.”
Others also find therapeutic value in skiing or snowboarding.
“It’s synonymous with meditation,” Everett said. “That project that’s due in two weeks just isn’t on your mind while you’re out there.”
Reiver feels the same way.
“I use snowboarding to clear my mind, to deal with any kind of stress,” he said. “Whether it’s an upcoming test or girl problems, snowboarding just helps me get in that better head space.”
Sometimes all it takes is being able to get away from college and the rest of real life, even just for a few hours.
“It’s an escape – the perfect little escape from school,” said Armand Klisivitch, a junior at Castleton who operates a lift at Pico every weekend and slips in runs there and at Killington whenever he can. Klisivitch feels thankful to have gotten a job at a mountain he loves, and where he has found a close and accepting community of people. It’s a sentiment shared by many.
“The best part is the community” Everett said, a hint of a smile playing around the corners of his mouth. “I’ve been to other mountains… but there’s something very special about Killington. Such a chill vibe.”
There’s a definite bond among the regulars at Killington, and even though they ski and snowboard simply for the joy they get from being at the mountain and not the social aspect, it’s something they greatly appreciate.
Being at the mountain definitely has a freeing and therapeutic effect for skiers and snowboarders. There’s nothing else quite like standing at the top of a snow-covered peak, preparing to drop in and let gravity take over.
“It’s the freedom,” Everett said emphatically, describing the best part of skiing for him; “definitely the freedom.”
Even apart from skiing or snowboarding, the beauty of the mountain itself is enough to inspire awe and respect.
“When you hike to the top of the mountain to get the sunrise, that’s an experience in itself,” Everett said, with a faraway look in his eye, as though he could see it all before him right then. “It makes you feel small. It’s humbling.”