The Killington Ski Club and Junior Programs
The Killington Ski Club originally operated out of the old A-frame ticket booth and ski school building. After major fundraising efforts, a modern, two-story Alpine Training Center replaced it in 1974, providing rooms for meetings, ski repair and tuning, physical conditioning, race-timing apparatus, and office space. Aside from serving as a preparation site for the Junior programs and a slopeside meeting place for KSC members, the training center continues as headquarters for ski races and freestyle and snowboard competitions.
The KSC and the ski area inaugurated the first Junior recreational and racing instruction programs in January 1962. The Killington Junior Recreational Ski Instruction Program was a most ambitious undertaking with enrollment topping 900 youngsters by 1966. Co-sponsored by the ski area and the KSC, it was the largest learn-to-ski program in the country. Adult KSC members who completed an intensive course on the principles of how to teach (given by ski school instructors) served as instructors for the Junior Program. Annual clinics were held for prospective Junior Program instructors and successful candidates joined the KSC and received ski passes for their teaching services. Pre-season review clinics were given for returning instructors and optional clinics were held throughout the season.
Schools from towns in Vermont and nearby New York participated in the nine weekly afternoon classes, often incorporating the ski lessons as part of their winter physical education program. Fun Day, a full day of free skiing, special races, and outdoor barbecue capped the season. The Vermont Achievement Center, a school for physically and learning challenged children, also participated with VAC students receiving special one-on-one instruction. (For many years children from the Brandon Training School also participated.) An estimated 20,000 to 25,000 youngsters attended this program over thirty-five seasons at Killington under the auspices of the ski area.
In 1996 the program moved to Pico and became the Killington Resort and Pico Mountain Junior Ski/Snowboard program (now operated by the ski company and no longer affiliated with the KSC). As times changed and gasoline became more expensive, families and schools requested that lessons be held closer to home so they could save on travel time and expense. Pico proved easier for all with its one base lodge and parking lot and the program has flourished. Coordinator Brenda Welch organizes about thirty-five volunteer instructors who teach about 500 students each winter, including snowboarders. The Junior Program continues to offer group lessons to students on Sundays mornings and afternoons on an individual sign-up basis and several schools bring students during the week.
The Killington Winter Sports Club in concert with the ski company also began an active race-training and competitions program for Juniors in 1962. (The company operated the programs, collected fees, hired coaches and coordinators and the KSC provided volunteers for gate keeping and other duties.) The Junior Competitions Program started with United States Ski Association (USSA) I and II class racers (ages 14 and over) and USSA IIIs and IVs (ages 9-13). In 1973 the ski club added the Junior Hopeful program (originated as Pee Wees for ages 6-9 and later extended to age 11) to help youngsters learn to ski and to encourage interest in the racing and (later) freestyle programs. These groups total some 150 to 200 youngsters annually.
When the Fourth Annual Alpine Training Camp was held in December 1964, Vermont youngsters learned racing tips from Olympians Verne Goodwin and Andrea Mead Lawrence and former college coaches Joe Jones and Joe McNealus. Over the years racing camps of varying lengths were held during vacation periods for junior competitors. They included the popular holiday race camps, which were co-sponsored by the KSC and ski area. As Killington became busier during holidays and as the competitions program itself expanded, the special "camps" were discontinued in the late 1970s.
Many adults have served as coaches to these programs over the years; those with long-term tenures included: Marsha Wilson, Wendy Hill, Steve Finneron, Frank Nelson, Paul Buhler, and Esther Loman in Hopefuls; George Ostler, Hans Forstner, Tom Torge, Ron Zaretsky, Butch Findeisen, and fifteen-year veteran Guy Garofalo for Junior III and IVs; Hermann Goellner, Greg McClallen, Hans Truckenbrod, Bill McCollom, Sumner Erbe, Dave Galusha, David Currier, and Roy Loman for Junior I and II's. Olga Pall, a former Austrian Olympic gold medalist, and Jocelyne Perillat, a French National Team member, also served as "guest" coaches at the I and II level during the 1970s.
Greg McClallen, Hans Forstner, Rudi Bear, Dave Irish, Tom Torge, Bill McCollom, Sumner Erbe, and Dave Galusha also served as Head Coaches in charge of race training over the years. The position of competitions coordinator was added in the 1970s with Kurt Wisell and, later, Thom Gilbert filling that role. A re-organization in 1988 added an events coordinator, Thom Gilbert, and director of competitions, Jim Remy. Roy Loman became the competitions program director and served until moving to Montana in 2007, and John Okolovich served as the competitions coordinator from 1997-2007. In 2007, Matt Gnoza, a fifteen-year coaching veteran with the KSC, took over as director of competitions and Okolovich moved to KSC manager.
In a reorganization of operations for the 2007-08 season, the ski area bowed out of running the competitions program. The KSC and the Killington Mountain School (KMS) joined forces and the resulting KSC/KMS Competitions Program operates the programs, with the exception of the Hopefuls (ages 6-12) which remained under the auspices of the ski company. There is a sharing of some 90 coaches and the Alpine Training Center serves as home to both groups.
The KSC/KMS Competitions Program offers coaching in three disciplines: Alpine racing, freestyle and snowboarding. One new program introduced in 2006 is the Junior-VI or Devo (ages 7 and up ) which is overseen by head coaches Steve Finneron and Betty Hughes. The J-V's (ages 9 and 10) and J-IV's (11 and 12) are headed up by Bruce Johnston. The J-III (13-14) program is run by coach Tim Curran. The J-I and J-II's (15-18) have a women's division headed up by Lon Brettell and Parker Gray oversees the men's.
Dee Williams reintroduced freestyle (moguls) to Killington in the early 1990s and directed the KSC program until she went to the USST as a coach in 2000. Matt Gnoza, who had been coaching freestylers since 1994, then headed up the freestyle program until 2005 when Deb Newson is the program's new director.
The snowboarding competitions program started in the late 1990s as a weekend KSC offering and evolved to a KMS offering as well. The disciplines include halfpipe, slalom, giant slalom, boardercross, and slopestyle and Ian Coates is the head coach. A Mountain Division snowboarding program was added in 2005 for kids who aren't competing but wish to have coaching and focus on all mountain terrain riding.
Hundreds of successful Alpine racers came up through or participated in the various training programs, and many pursued competition at the highest levels. Among the early racers who competed in the Junior Nationals were Harry "Rebel" Ryan, Rick and Suzie Chaffee, Wendy Woodworth, Kathy Blauvelt, Bob Hill, George "Crandy" Grant, Leslie Smith, and Wendy Jones. In 1978 Killington racers Scott Smith, Cort Jones, Bonnie Mosser (Maus), Mark Smith, and Jennifer Smith (Littlehales) participated in the first Junior Olympics, formerly the Junior Nationals, held at Squaw Valley. Over the years, numerous Killington-trained racers competed in Junior National and Junior Olympic competitions. In the late 1980s, the rising stars included Dana Alpert, Ali Stout, Tony DeLeo, Jim and Derek McClellan, Joe Bianchi, and Cynthia Rouzee. More recently Kristen Leggett, who participated in the KSC Program and went on to become a KMS student, participated on the US Development Ski Team. Moguls competitor Kelsey Albert qualified for the U.S. Development Team in 2008.
Many KSC members competed at the National (senior) level with so many making the development programs for the U.S. Ski Team (USST) that it is impractical to list them all. Those who attained berths on the USST beyond the development level included: the Chaffees and Ryan, who skied in the 1968 Olympics; Leslie Smith, who skied in the 1976 Olympics; Bob Hill and Mark D. Smith; and Kyle Wieche, a competitor in the 1992 Olympics. Additionally, Richard Woodworth, who excelled in his formative training with the Killington IIIs and IVs went on to the first Stratton Mountain School class and the USST and became the top American male pro skier for several years. Felix McGrath also got his start in Killington's III and IV's program and skied on the USST and in the 1988 Olympics.
Many more skiers who trained at Killington competed for college ski teams, where they excelled in National College Athletic Association championships and often helped garner NCAA titles or other national championships. Among them were: Cathy Lewis, Chris Wise, Bob Hill, and Penny Breed at Dartmouth; Bruce Genereaux, Diane Sargent (Miller), Suzanne Wise, Jeffrey Peck, Mike Schoenfeld, Leslie Smith (Sykes) at Middlebury; Butch Findeisen, Suzanne Sargent, and E.J. Bianchi at St. Lawrence; Skip Stewart, Lisa and Cort Jones at Montana State; Mark Smith, David Ojala, Lucas Adler, Jeff Darrow, Bob Wescott, Scott Smith, and Corky Sholes at the University of Vermont; Wendy Jones at the University of Utah; Jeff Findeisen and Jill Maynard at New England College; Wendy Woodworth (Neal) at Johnson State College; and Jim Bianchi at Boston College.
Among the former Junior Competition Program racers, many returned to coach, including: Bruce Genereaux, Dave Hill, David Cleaves, Suzanne Sargent, Diane Sargent (Miller), Cort, Lisa, and Wendy Jones, Butch Findeisen, Kathleen and Mike O'Malley, and Jennifer Smith (Littlehales) for the Junior programs; and Dave and Bob Hill, Ann Calhoun for the Masters program. Others went on to coach at Middlebury, Dartmouth, UVM, and other well known schools and ski areas. Mark Smith became the director of the U.S. Development Team Eastern Division in 1988-89 and was named men's coach for the USST for 1989-90, and Wendy Woodworth (Neal) became racing director at Okemo in 1986.
The KSC added training programs for adults in the 1980s. Bob Burley was the director of a new program called Adult Skillfuls, which expanded its offerings as the program grew in popularity and added a "mountain cruising" class. Adult race classes were offered for recreational racing and a Masters Circuit Racing Program was designed for more serious, advanced racers. Today, a Masters class run by volunteers is offered for an adult program.
The KSC also serves as a social club for its members, providing a convenient home base (in the Alpine Training Center which has lockers) to store gear and a place where members can meet up with friends while booting up. The KSC includes some 400 adult and student/family memberships (about 1,000 individuals).