Vermont’s skiing and riding season is underway.
Thursday, Killington Resort opened very limited mountaintop terrain to the general public, after giving season pass holders an early preview Wednesday.
"The first day’s always fun," said snowboarder Anna Valentine of Ludlow. "Whatever snow I can get on, I want to get on!"
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Skier Cork Nester of North Creek, New York, said he is already starting his tally of days spent on the mountain.
"The goal is always at least a hundred," Nester told necn. "Last year it was 131, hopefully this year it will be more. It’s all about what Mother Nature wants to give us!"
Two other Vermont resorts announced openings this weekend.
The Okemo Mountain Resort in Ludlow announced it will open Saturday, saying in a tweet that its snowmaking operations surged this week with the arrival of low temperatures.
Thanks in large part to a $30-million expansion of its snowmaking infrastructure, Mount Snow in West Dover also announced it will open Saturday.
A Mount Snow spokesman called the opening "historically early" for the southern Vermont destination, and boasted of the quality and coverage of its open terrain and terrain park.
But perhaps no place else in the industry is this week’s cool-down in temperatures as critical as it is at Killington.
That’s because the resort needed to ramp up its snowmaking operations as it prepares to host the Audi FIS Women’s Ski World Cup on Nov. 25 and 26, for a second year.
The races are televised throughout the world and serve as something of a preview of the Winter Olympics.
"I don’t think I’ve ever seen us put this much horsepower behind one hill," Killington’s Rob Megnin said of the snowmaking plan that is now creating the snow depths and coverage needed for the arrival of the world’s fastest female racers in Vermont.
The sound of snow guns is welcome at Killington, following a much-warmer-than-normal October.
"We tried to get going, but the weather wasn’t conducive," Megnin said of efforts to start making significant amounts of snow in October. "But as soon as we got [the cold weather] this week, and we had extended cold—and now we’re getting again into some really cold [temperatures] tonight and the next couple of days—we can turn it around quite quickly."
Megnin said Killington’s snowmaking teams will keep working to perfect the course, right up until those World Cup showdowns the weekend after Thanksgiving.
The trade group Ski Vermont provided a list of resorts’ tentative opening dates, noting they may change depending on weather conditions.