Burlington Vermont Ski Resorts

June Skiing at Killington?

Solimano

In an open letter to passholders at the beginning of last season, newly appointed Killington president Mike Solimano said, “We need to regain that swagger that allowed us to have bragging rights in almost every measurable category of operation. Look for us to return to the roots and essence of whom and what we are.”

Solimano, a lifelong skier who grew up skiing in the Poconos, certainly knows Killington, where he’s been employed for 13 years. He was the resort’s chief financial officer when Utah-based Powdr Corp. acquired it from debt-crippled American Skiing Co. When he took over as president in 2012, morale among Killington regulars was at a low point, but Solimano has since launched an aggressive charm offensive that has won back many of Powdr Corp.’s most bitter critics.

We had a chance to ask him about The Beast’s rocky recent past—and his vision for its future—in a conversation that touched on a range of topics near and dear to the hardcore Killington skier’s heart.

Communication Breakdown: Solimano freely admits that when Powdr first took over, Killington’s new managers weren’t as open and communicative as they could have been.

“In the past maybe we didn’t spend lot of time explaining what we were doing and why. People want to be in the know, and even when we were doing good things, we did a bad job of explaining what we were doing. We did some stuff that people didn’t like, but if explain better, they understand why you’re doing things. In a resort, you’ve got passionate people who feel like it’s their own, so if you do something that messes it up you’re going to hear about it. And sometimes when people don’t know the real story, they make up their own. I said, let’s just overcommit and explain what we’re doing, even if it’s basic stuff. Let’s just be honest and open. We’re not just big corporate guys. We love skiing too, and we want to have a great resort. So that’s what the team’s been focused on—listening and responding. I put my email address in blog posts, and I answer all my emails. I get some good feedback, and if something makes sense, we’ll try to implement it. It was crazy that it got so adversarial with our most loyal customers. I think we've done a lot of things to endear ourselves to them—mostly just listening.”

Open Early, Close Late: Bright sun, sloppy corn snow, tailgate parties in muddy parking lots…. Ultra late-season skiing was a Killington hallmark. Of all the things Killington’s new owners did to alienate its hardcore fans, shortening the season was the most controversial.

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