Ambassadors Help Create A Congenial Climate At Killington.

Here are the 2019-20 Killington Ambassadors saying hello. Volunteers commit to 21 days of service during the season. Credit: Killington Mountain Resort

As a huge ski area with several base areas and mountain peaks, finding one’s way around Killington can be a challenge. That’s where the green-jacketed Ambassadors come in, often saving the day by showing guests how to get where they want to go—or in some cases—avoid a too difficult or too flat a trail.

This year the COVID-19 pandemic has made the Ambassadors duties extra special as so much has changed—from getting a lift ticket to the necessity of wearing masks.

Ambassadors are dedicated volunteers who enjoy skiing or snowboarding so much that they commit to 21 days wearing the green to help guests have fun. Ambassador Program Manager Pete Duffy notes, “They are passionate about the mountain, the sport, and they want to help people.”

Hard to miss the Ambassadors in the green jackets. Credit: Karen Lorentz

To do that, Ambassadors attend morning briefings before the lifts open so they are up to date on conditions, lifts operating, and anything else pertinent to that day. They answer questions as they greet people mornings at the base areas and later help them find their way back to starting points at the end of the day.

Throughout the day, they ski around assigned mountain areas and answer questions just as their bright green jackets invite.

They also help reunite parties that get separated. Seeing a small boy reunited with his parents was “priceless,” Roger Halye said of a best memory.

Another joy Ambassadors cite is assisting with marriage proposals—whether it’s writing a “will you marry me” on the snow under a lift or taking a photo of a proposal at the peak.

They also assist other departments as needed. The sweet perk is skiing until it’s time to help the ski patrol with the end-of-the-day sweep or man various end-of-day stations. Duffy notes, they do all these tasks in all kinds of weather, including extreme cold, wind, snow, and rain.

In a normal season, Ambassadors also give free Meet the Mountains Tours, offer tips on events, take photos of people, greet bus groups, and staff the hotel and events, all of which went by the boards due to state COVID-19 related guidelines this year.

They ARE smiling. Green jacket Ambassadors Mike Cahill, Pete Duffy, Susan Cummins, Keith Murphy guard new ticket booth. Credit: Karen Lorentz

Recently I had the great fun of being shown around by Ambassadors Susan Cummins and Mike “Mickey” Cahill. Cummins prides herself on being “a friendly face willing to help and guide.” Like others, she also praises the social aspects of being an Ambassador, noting, “Through the program, I have generated some wonderful friendships; some so close they have come to my family events like weddings and holidays.”

Retired State Trooper Mike Cahill briefly dips his mask at the new automated ticket kiosk. Credit: Karen Lorentz

Noting he loves skiing Killington and helping people enjoy the mountain. Cahill said becoming an Ambassador helped him fill a void in his life after he retired from being a New York state trooper at the mandatory age of 60. “I enjoy the camaraderie within the group of outstanding people who share the same goals,” he added.

Bobby G has given tours for 20-plus years and counts many special moments, including people who return year after year for another tour, which leads to great friendships. One friendship has taken him to England several times. Another repeat guest is a clinical psychologist, causing Giordano to “sometimes wonder if it’s just the friendship or if I’m a ‘research subject’ that needs to be carefully watched.”

When fierce winds were buffeting a petite beginner who kept falling, Noreen McGill used her own body to shield her from the gusts, and together they managed to slip and side step to the shelter of trees. There McGill applauded the woman’s tenacity and thanked her for “sharing her struggle and strength” with her.

Riding a lift, Ambassador Louise Young met a guest from Toms River, NJ.  “I mentioned Toms River made the news years ago (1998) by winning the Little League World Series. Turns out he was one of the coaches!!”

Joe Schorle had a guest ask him “what he could do about boots causing his feet to hurt. I started to recommend a shop for adjustment but then looked down and realized his boots were on the wrong feet!”

Marc Pileggi recalled a “most unusual thing that happened was having to call a transport for a group of 12 who decided to go to the top of Ramshead at 3:45 with no ability to ski down.”

Questions People Ask

“How do you get to the main lodge? They usually mean the lodge where they started from,” notes Louise Young.

“What’s the easiest black diamond trail?”

When he’s stationed at the top of Killington Peak on a cloud-free day, people ask Robert Ide to identify the other visible ski areas.  The mountain they wish to have identified most is Mt. Washington, he said.

Questions Anthony Russo hears include: “Can you take our photo (asked prior to COVID)?” “Where’s the restrooms?” “What time does the lift close (usually asked at 4 p.m.)?  Where are the beginner slopes? Where is a good place to eat? Can you recommend other things to do besides skiing? Is there an easier way down from here?”

In late March and April, Phil Lipari is often asked, “Why does the mountain close at 4:00 when there is still a lot of day light? In January and February, why there is no night skiing?”

“What do you do with all the man-made snow in the summer?” Noreen McGill overheard a woman ask an Ambassador. “We store it in all the silos on the farms,” elicited an “Oh” as she contentedly walked away.

Pete Duffy said he was greeting people when a woman holding a glass bowl asked where she could leave her pet turtle while she skied. Since pets were not allowed inside a lodge, he never did find out what she did with it.

 

4 Comments

  1. Wonderful idea and story Karen. It brought back memories of years at the ski resorts chatting with ambassadors at Killington and other areas. The Nordic resorts need ambassadors, too and perhaps your article can enlighten them about how important this link to the guests is and what a significant way to communicate with the patrons.

  2. Avatar Mary-Jane Sackett says:

    Great article. Being a Mountain Ambassador at Jiminy Peak in Hancock, MA, I enjoyed hearing about what other Ambassadors do at their home area, and chuckled at some of the questions that guests have asked. As the season marches on to its inevitable end, here’s to a winter of 21-22 that has fewer restrictions, lots of good snow and days filled with blue skies.

  3. Avatar Bernie Krasnoff says:

    Hi Karen, Always enjoy reading your stories, especially in this week’s Mountain Times of your skiing with your grandkids.

  4. Avatar Eileen Fishkin says:

    Great article. Thank you!

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