Builders of the Beast Title
It’s one thing for Killington to advertise the longest ski season in the East, but rising to the challenge is another thing entirely.
Behind the scenes with the creators of the longest season in the East

Offering 200 days of skiing doesn’t come easily. A season that extends from early November to late May most years must be built, piece by piece, year after year. This work is a labor of love—love for the mountain, love for skiing and riding, and love for a community of people who strive every day to make Killington rise above.

Building seven months of winter requires people in the trenches, often invisible and rarely acknowledged, taking care of the nitty-gritty details that keep Killing-ton’s winter season rolling for more than half the year. They are the snowmakers, the hoteliers and events staff, the people who ensure your burgers are juicy and your kids’ cocoa is hot. These folks, along with ski patrol, lift operators, parking attendants, mechanics and many others make all the fun possible. These are the builders of the longest season in the East.
“When we find the balance, where everything works as it should, it’s super rewarding.”
Soojeong Seo:
Food & Beverage Administrator
The only thing better than a fresh scone and a hot cup of coffee before a powder day is a mountainous plate of nachos and a pitcher of cold beer immediately after a powder day. Soojeong Seo is tasked with ensuring that Killington’s scones are flakey, the coffee is rich, the nachos are hearty and the beer is frosty—anywhere, anytime. Her tenure spans 18 on-mountain locations that satisfy a broad range of culinary tastes, from homemade mac and cheese at the Peak Lodge to the rack of lamb at Preston’s, located in the Killington Grand Hotel. To keep all of these locations stocked, staffed and providing top-quality food and drink, Seo is part of a team of around 20 full-time staff and hundreds of seasonal employees. It’s a huge operation—particularly for an environment as dynamic as Killington Resort.

“We never have a final plan,” she explains, laughing. “Everything depends on the snow and the season. Everything is new every year."

In a busy winter’s week, Seo and team facilitate tens of thousands of meals, serve hundreds of kegs’ worth of beer and cases of wine and seamlessly coordinate with all of the resort’s lodges, restaurants and unique events. “We have so many pieces that must work together,” Seo says, “that when we find the balance, where everything works as it should, it’s super rewarding.” One such week took place during Thanksgiving 2021, with the return of the Homelight Killington World Cup ski race. Over the weekend, 20,000 spectators came to watch World Cup athletes compete on the slopes—and most of them partook in some form of food or beverage service. That’s a lot of cocoa.
Northeastern ice events can be bedazzling to look at, but when it comes to mountain operations they can also be disruptive and downright destructive. It’s a fact of life in the mountains at Killington/Pico, where an icing event can leave lifts and other infrastructure frozen in time. That’s where the core (and cold) competency of the mountain operations team comes in.
“We never have a final plan,” she explains, laughing. “Everything depends on the snow and the season. Everything is new every year.”

But it’s not just about food and drink. Seo and her staff are possibly the most prominent ambassadors for the resort. “By far, we have the most transactions [of any department],” Seo explains. “A guest only buys one ticket—and may even do that online—but they come through F&B multiple times a day. A coffee in the morning, lunch at the lodge, then a can of beer to celebrate. And we get to actually interact— we have the most facetime with guests, and in the case of sit-down restaurants, intimate facetime. So, whatever we do, it can make a difference to our customer. Even if it’s just a free cup of coffee, we can make somebody’s day.”

So, what makes Seo’s perfect day on the mountain? “No phone calls from work!” she jokes. “But riding the mountain with my family, going over to Bear to have lunch, and doing some tree runs is my ideal day.”
“I love everything about making snow!”
Greg Gleason:
Snowmaking Supervisor
Building the longest season in the East really comes down to one thing: snow. Lots and lots of snow. And since Mother Nature doesn’t always cooperate, Killington has a massive, state-of-the-art snowmaking system operated by a team of round-the-clock snowmakers like Greg Gleason. With 17 years of snowmaking experience, Gleason knows a thing or two about what it takes to get the mountain open—and keep it open—no matter the weather.

Often starting in October—and running right into the first or second week of March—Gleason and the mountain ops team orchestrate an impressive array of equipment and resources. “I don’t think anyone actually knows how many [snow] guns are on the mountain,”Gleason admits. “I’m going to estimate that we have 1,700 to 1,800 tower guns, and of those 1,200 to 1,400 are newer, low-energy units [that make snow most efficiently].”

Water is drawn from two on-mountain ponds (and from Woodward Reservoir, via a four-to five-mile pipeline) and distributed from 13 pump stations at up to 7,500 gallons a minute to guns all over the resort. That flow could fill an Olympic swimming pool in under 1.5 hours.

“We have access to an almost unlimited supply of water,” Gleason explains, “and that’s what makes Killington 'The Beast.'” Other ski resorts have more sheer pumping capacity, but few, if any, can match Killington’s water resource. “If they pump all their available water out in four days,” Gleason says, “they have to stop and wait for that level to rise. We don’t have that issue.”
Northeastern ice events can be bedazzling to look at, but when it comes to mountain operations they can also be disruptive and downright destructive. It’s a fact of life in the mountains at Killington/Pico, where an icing event can leave lifts and other infrastructure frozen in time. That’s where the core (and cold) competency of the mountain operations team comes in.
“Here, snowmakers are heroes, you know. You walk anywhere on the mountain in snowmaking gear—it’s hooting and hollering and high fives.”

Vermont is also cold, which is a key factor for efficient snow production. “In New England, it gets cold and stays cold, night and day,” Gleason explains. At Western ski areas where he’s previously worked, they could only make snow overnight, due to higher temperatures and lower humidity. “If it’s zero degrees, and we turn the guns on at 7 p.m., we can open the next day. Part of what makes Killington special is that, when we start making snow, we can be open in 24 hours or less. It’s really cool, the sheer power of the system.”

Gleason oversees round-the-clock shifts of up to 25 snowmaking personnel, who move equipment, connect pipes and hoses and monitor output, farming snow from top to bottom. “Here, snowmakers are heroes, you know,” Gleason says with a laugh. “You walk anywhere on the mountain in snowmaking gear—it’s hooting and hollering and high fives.”

This support from the ski community and the satisfaction of turning the mountains white is what Gleason enjoys most about making snow. “It gives us a sense of pride in what we’re capable of,” he says. “I love everything about making snow.”
“Summer is what’s kept me at Killington!”
Sophia Parvez: Banquet Supervisor
It may seem like enough for Killington to offer 200+ days of skiing and riding, as well as a busy summer of mountain biking, hiking and golf. But the resort also puts on over 100 individual events each year—from weddings to community celebrations to corporate retreats—all orchestrated by Sophia Parvez and her team.

“We operate year-round,” Parvez explains. “The majority of our summer work is with weddings. We did 30 weddings last summer, and next summer we are looking at around 40. That’s the bulk of our summer focus.”

Most couples choose to get hitched at Killington because they love the place: “Most of them have grown up skiing here, visiting here,” Parvez says. But many of the wedding guests are new to the area. “We get to talk with people, help them figure out how to enjoy their time here, and I think it’s a pretty unique experience for everybody involved.”
Northeastern ice events can be bedazzling to look at, but when it comes to mountain operations they can also be disruptive and downright destructive. It’s a fact of life in the mountains at Killington/Pico, where an icing event can leave lifts and other infrastructure frozen in time. That’s where the core (and cold) competency of the mountain operations team comes in.
“There’s this beautiful mountain just outside—there’s so much to see. We have guests that ask: ‘What should we do?’ Well, let me give you this huge list of things.”

Parvez and her team of 10 to 12 banquet captains and servers work closely with other departments, like Seo’s Food & Beverage (above), and also plan conferences—for everyone from teachers’ associations to the Vermont National Guard—working corporate ski retreats and community events including the Vermont Holiday Festival.

“The Holiday Festival’s a big community event, which is really important to Killington,” Parvez says. “It’s a lot of fun to be part of that, because we get to work with everybody from the area—it’s very family oriented, and lots of local businesses and organizations get involved.”

November’s World Cup races are an opportunity for the banquet team’s hospitality to really shine, and Parvez takes pride in the way in which her staff rises to the challenge. “Most importantly, in my eyes, is that we’re in charge of all the athlete meals,” Parvez says. “It’s pretty cool for the staff to interact with athletes from around the world—that’s not really a common thing in Vermont. We’re also in charge of running the athletes' tent up on the hill and the VIP tent, with a lot of specialty food, a dedicated bar—it’s a pretty unique atmosphere at the finish line. The World Cup is our biggest winter event.”

What makes Killington such a great place for hosting? “Anywhere we hold our events—the hotels or at the Peak Lodge—just look at where you are,” Parvez suggests. “There’s this beautiful mountain just outside—there’s so much to see. We have guests that ask: ‘What should we do?’ Well, let me give you this huge list of things.”

When she’s not working on major events, Parvez likes to enjoy the mountain as much as anyone. “I’m not a 100-day-a-year rider or anything,” she confesses, “but I get out quite a bit when I can. But I have to admit that I actually prefer mountain biking. Summer is what’s kept me at Killington!”

— Drew Pogge

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