EARLY SKI SEASON

Due to the superb snowmaking and grooming at Killington, an early ski trip just before Thanksgiving could add up to some great skiing at the largest ski area in the East . . . at bargain prices. When I lived at Killington, I would start skiing right after hunting season and ski well into May. For me, anytime is a good time to ski Killington. The ski season there usually runs from mid-October to June but the good skiing starts at the end of November and BEFORE Thanksgiving weekend, the rates are ridiculously inexpensive.

I was reminded of this a couple of years ago when a stewardess friend of mine called me to ask if I knew of any ski areas that would be opened in mid-November. “Killington will be opened,” I said, without even thinking. She told me that she had a few days off near the end of the month and wanted to go skiing. “Lets go,” I said. As a former “local” at Killington, I knew I could show her a good time.

I picked her up at the Newark Airport and we arrived bright and early the next morning, after a pleasant night at a hotel in Lake George. We were eager to hit the slopes. They had done a really good job blowing snow on Snowdon Mountain and the terrain was just right for an old ski bum like me to show off in front of his young stewardess friend. She was an intermediate skier and was very challenged by the Chute, Bunny Buster, and the other trails that were opened. None of the expert trails were opened yet, but they were blowing snow like crazy. So I was content with giving my friend private lessons all day long. After all, there is more to being a ski bum that knocking yourself out the expert runs . . . there are always pretty women in need of tutoring on the snow and there is nothing wrong with looking good on an intermediate slope!

The Fast Old Guys

As we pulled into the main Killington parking lot, we found a space in the very first row of cars. When we went into the Base Lodge, I saw the familiar face of an old ski buddy from my days at Killington. Peter “The Knife” DeMaio had been a weekender and a member of a ski house in the old days when I was a local. Now, the tables were turned. He lived at Killington and skied every day and I was just a tourist. He was with a congenial group of men and women who evidently skied together often. We made a few runs with this group of really fine skiers who were “regulars” at Killington and had a blast.

Peter is retired and the unofficial leader of this group and now skies almost every day with his fiend “D”. I remembered “D” from the old days too. When you ski every day at Killington, you meet the other ski addicts who are out every day looking for first tracks, on a quest for the prefect run.The group I skied with, in the old days included: Lee, Tony Sgro (pro freestyler), Pepe Gougenberger (Grand Marnie winner ’91), Willie, “D”, “Crazy Ernie” Forst (pro freestyler), Dillon Jones (pro freestyler), Glen Testa (private ski coach), Karen Huntoon (ski movie stunt woman), and week-enders that included Tommy Boston (bartender), Carl and Richie Lorrenzo (bartenders), Gordon Bumpus (now a Killington ski instructor) and host of other really fine skiers. They have all become full-time ski bums and permanent parts of the Killington winter landscape.

Peter is now an amazing skier who is really smooth and fast. It’s amazing what skiing every day will do to enhance your technique. His buddy “D” is also a daily visitor at Killington and very, very smooth. He must be more than sixty years old . . . he won’t tell anyone his real age but he can REALLY ski. The people that make up this group shifts and changes from day-to-day but the caliber of the skiing remained the same . . . GREAT. These guys and gals may have a few grey hairs but they can ski the pants off almost anybody!

DINNER FOR TWO

After skiing we went back to our room to relax and freshen up. For dinner that evening, we went to the Pasta Pot, one of my favorite Italian restaurants at Killington. I’ve been eating there ever since they opened and have many memories associated with that place. The owner “Pasta Pete” is a real character but more importantly, he is an EXCELLENT Italian chef. I ordered the mussels over linguini which are a specialty of the house. The portions are large, the mussels are spicy and I order them when ever they are on the menu. After an hard day of skiing at Killington, dinner at the Pasta Pot is always a taste treat.

Donna Weinbrecht waited tables there and along with my buddy Tex Lintz, the year she won the women’s division of the Bear Mountain Mogul Challenge, beginning her victories that led to Olympic gold. That was an excellent year for the Pasta Pot, their dishwasher also placed first for the men at the Bear Mountain Mogul Challenge, you could say it was a clean sweep, with Pasta Pete (the owner) inadvertently becoming a major benefactor of the sport of freestyle at Killington.

We caught the weather just right. Every day there were a few more trails open, so I was never got bored and Dawn was constantly challenged. We had four days of perfect weather and excellent skiing before any of our other ski fiends even began to THINK SNOW.

If you can head up to Killington before the real ski season starts, in late November, you will find that the rooms are cheap, the slopes are uncrowded and there are lots of terrific bargains in the shops. If you are interested in getting in as many vertical miles as you can this season, head up to Killington as soon as possible. This year, they will be blowing snow as soon as it is cold enough and you can’t beat the early season rates. Look for me on the slope. I’ll be the slightly older ski bum skiing with the pretty young lady, giving pointers to her on the snow and looking great on the intermediate trails, making perfect turn after perfect turn all the way down the mountain. If you ski as often as you can, some day you might be that slightly older skier who looks so fine coming down the mountain.