The King of Spring does not walk, he saunters. He wears only sunglasses, a tight pair of blue skivvies, and ski boots. His gold chains say “Jersey” and his sly smile screams, “hey now.” His skis are straight.
The King of Spring, a character in Killington Mountain Resort’s web video series, is everything we have to come to love and hate about the state’s largest ski resort: The King is bold, he’s brash, he’s cheesy. But, hey now, he sure is a lot of fun to party with.
Come April, as other resorts are shutting down, Killington embraces its inner cheese like puff pastry around a wheel of Brie. Just off the trails, the Umbrella Bars are in full swing, live music blares from every deck.
But beyond the beer-infused tailgate and grill parties, there’s another side of Killington that shines in April: it’s the fact that some of the most hard-core athletes in the state call this area home.
Olympic medalist Donna Weinbrecht hosted a mogul clinic on April 1. A week later, the infamous Bear Mountain Mogul Challenge sent some of the region’s best amateurs (and some not-so-good ones) in a head-to-head bump off. But that wasn’t the end to skiing. Thanks to artillery of snow guns, the snow is likely to hold out until May (or even June, according to the resort’s most recent projected closing date). Or at least in time for the Killington Triathlon on April 29.
After that, you have a little more than month before the Killington Stage Race sends up-and-coming pros like Ansel Dickey and Brendan Rhim (both graduates of the Killington Mountain School cycling program) on some of the toughest climbs and most scenic roads in the region.
For mountain bikers, Killington has been upping the ante and is in phase two of a five-year mountain bike park expansion. Already there’s lift-served terrain with more than 2,000 vertical downhill trails featuring berms, banks and swoopy, flowy switchbacks, and that’s just the beginning: the resort plans to keep expanding this park and trails.
In addition, the town of Killington has begun the first of a three-phase mountain bike trail build out that could result in more than 100 miles of trails and, eventually, link Killington Resort trails with town trails and the Green Mountain Trails in Pittsfield.
April’s rain and snow melt may muddy the trails, but once they’ve dried, head to Pittsfield (just 8 miles north of Killington) and plan to ride or hike the Green Mountain Trails. And if it is a Friday or Saturday, make a dinner reservation at The Backroom, the super-hot restaurant over the Pittsfield General Store. The restaurant is run by Kevin Lasko, an obstacle course racer and former chef at New York’s Park Avenue and his partner Katie Stiles. And since since The New York Times reviewed it this past February and called it “a dining experience that feels like New England’s coolest dinner party,” it’s not easy to get a table.
The Red Clover Inn in Mendon is another good dinner destination with farm-fresh produce and a seasonal menu and a visit to the Long Trail Inn (just off the Long Trail) is a must if you have never been to this classic.
And if the weather holds up, it’s possible to play four seasons of sports in one day. Get up early and fly-fish with Greg and Kim Newton of Blue Ridge Outfitters (blueridgeoutfitters.com). Make some laps on the snow-covered mountain trails. Go for a road (or, trails permitting) mountain bike ride and then, then hit a few golf balls. The Green Mountain National golf course is looking at opening on April 28 this year.
And while the King of Spring may not be there to challenge you, there are plenty of core local athletes who will.
Photo courtesy Killington Resort/Chandler Burgess