KILLINGTON — The Audi FIS Ski World Cup will spend two more years at Killington Resort.
U.S. Ski & Snowboard announced Monday it had signed a contract with POWDR, Killington’s parent company, to keep the World Cup at the resort through 2020. The event includes the women’s giant slalom and slalom races, the latter of which U.S. Ski Team racer Mikaela Shiffrin has won each year since the competition was first held at Killington in 2016.
Killington spokeswoman Courtney DiFiore said the event was not only a boon for attendance — it pulled in an estimated 39,000 spectators over three days last year — but also spurred the resort on to more intense early season snowmaking, which pays dividends come spring.
“We have to get this huge base ready for Olympic athletes on Superstar,” she said. “We just closed yesterday. We made it to June. This helps us do that.”
Promotional materials from Killington touted the event as bringing in “millions of dollars” to the state. More precise estimates of the economic impact were not readily available Monday, but Killington Pico Area Association Executive Director Michael Coppinger said that during the 2018 event, lodging occupancy was up 11% over the previous year and restaurant business was up 15%.
“As I recall, the forecast leading up to that weekend was outstanding for Friday and Saturday,” he said. “Unfortunately, Sunday got all of that rain.”
Regardless of weather, he said World Cup attendance at Killington has increased each year.
“The exposure to the Killington area and the whole Killington Valley region is huge,” he said. “A worldwide television audience is watching it at home. It’s invaluable what that does for the resort.”
Coppinger also said the resort has fine-tuned its handling of the event each year.
“It seems like a well-oiled machine,” he said. “I’m sure there’s a lot of chaos behind the scenes, but you as an event-goer wouldn’t see that.”
The event’s continued presence is also a boon to the regional marketing campaign, according to Steve Costello, one of the effort’s organizers.
“Killington is definitely playing a large role in recruitment,” Costello said. “A lot of folks who moved here recently, specifically want to be near the mountain. ... Probably four or five families I can think of specifically said Killington was one of the main draws for them.”
With the event increasing Killington’s profile, Costello said, it will become an even greater draw.
DiFiore said tickets for the grandstand will go on sale in August, but there will continue be ample free space slopeside for spectators.
Local school officials said they fully support the three tobacco and e-cigarette prevention bills that Gov. Phil Scott signed into law last week, and hope they will help curb vaping among students.
The first law raises the required purchasing age for all tobacco products from 18 to 21, making Vermont the 14th state to pass such a measure. Another prevents vendors from selling e-cigarettes, liquids containing nicotine and other tobacco substitutes in the state without a Vermont seller’s license, which effectively prevents the sale of these products online. The third law imposes the same 92% tax on e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine that already applies to other tobacco products.
Rutland City Public Schools has long had a tobacco-free campus policy, which was amended last year to include e-cigarettes, according to Assistant Superintendent Rob Bliss. Bliss supports all three new measures, calling them a step in the right direction.
“It’s a big issue for us,” he said of students’ vaping habits. “The research isn’t out about the impact of these things, but I’m worried.”
Bliss believes the law that effectively bans online sales will have a big impact on student access, explaining that students who are able to purchase e-cigarette products online often redistribute them to their friends.
Bliss said that in the last year or two, suspensions from tobacco use on campus at the high school have spiked, and that going forward he hopes to introduce more education around the dangers of tobacco. This is also where Bliss believes the increased tax could act as an effective deterrent.
“Our push next year is to educate students about the risks involved, including, now, the cost risks associated with using these products,” he said.
Otter Valley Middle and High School Principal Jim Avery also supports the new measures, and worries his students do not understand the danger of e-cigarette use.
“This year it’s just become an epidemic.” he said. “We’re trying to respond to that, and I think the right response is really educational.”
Officials at the Vermont Department of Health are tracking e-cigarette use among teens as a statewide problem. The 2017 Vermont Youth Risk Behavior Survey indicated that e-cigarettes were the most-used tobacco product among high school students. While the survey found that the percentage of students who identified as currently using e-cigarettes went down 15% since 2015, the frequency of use among students who were actively using went up. The survey also found that the proportion of students using e-cigarettes increased each year from grades 9 through 12.
Rhonda Williams, chronic disease prevention chief with the Department of Health, said that she frequently hears from school officials who are concerned about student vaping habits.
“In my eight years at the health department I haven’t seen anything like it,” she said. “We have school nurses who are seeing kids that are trying to quit using three pods a day, which is the nicotine equivalent of three packs of cigarettes a day.”
Williams said these three new laws were designed to reduce youth access to e-cigarettes. She also mentioned other recent measures that restrict e-cigarette use in public to the same degree as cigarette smoking, and that she hopes will deliver the message that vaping is dangerous.
“By having these three policies together, it says this is an important public health issue and we are treating it as such,” she said.
Montpelier High School Principal Mike McRaith said he advocated for the passage of these laws.
“We recognize the health risks, costs and addiction potential that these products have for our students,” he said. “We hope that with less access, along with education and community support, fewer students will be negatively impacted by these products.”
McRaith is cautiously optimistic that, at his school, the e-cigarette problem has reached a lull.
“I think that it’s trendy, and for a small population like ours stuff can ebb and flow,” he said. “It feels like it might have slowed here.”
However, he added that e-cigarettes are hard to detect, and therefore it can be hard to track usage.
When speaking to students about the risks of e-cigarettes, McRaith said that, in addition to the health concerns, he tries to emphasize that marketing campaigns have targeted young people.
“I emphasize addiction and the fact that I believe that teenagers are being targeted as customers for a product that’s addictive,” he said. “It lands with teenagers when I explain to them that I think they’re the victims of marketing. Nobody wants to feel duped.”
Williams said the Health Department will continue to look for ways to help educate young people and prevent further use.
“We know this isn’t easily addressed, we have to continue to be vigilant,” she said, “These three policies are a good step toward doing that, but we need to keep looking at what we can be doing as a state and within our schools and families so that we don’t have a serious problem continue.”
CLARENDON — Officials say a fire that almost destroyed a house on Peters Lane could have been started by a spontaneously combusting lawnmower.
Clarendon Springs Volunteer Fire Department Chief Matt Jakubowski said they were called in just after 5 a.m. on Sunday after a neighbor noticed the blaze, and ran to the door to wake up the inhabitants.
Both fire investigators and firefighters said they thought the fire was started by the combusting engine of the lawnmower and spread by spare grass clippings, Jakubowski said.
The three-story house was home to Catherine Pithers, Todd Smith, Smith’s two sons Ryan and Owen, and Pithers’ children Sabrina, Olivia and Nicholas Gordon, according to Pithers’ sister in law, Kim Porcaro of Glens Falls, New York.
“We arrived on scene, the garage was on the ground,” Jakubowski said. “It was gone, and the back of the house was on fire.”
With the help of 45 to 50 firefighters from the volunteer fire departments from West Rutland, Wallingford, Middletown Springs, Rutland Town, Proctor and Danby, Regional Ambulance and the Red Cross, all inhabitants and their pets got out unharmed and the fire was knocked down by 11 a.m.
“The house is a balloon frame house, so there’s no stopping fire in between the floors,” Jakubowski said. “One cat was left behind, but we found it, and it was alive in the upstairs bedroom.”
A pickup truck was also fully involved when firefighters arrived on scene, and the car next to it sustained fire damage. Ultimately, Jakubowski said he thought the historic house was salvageable, thanks in large part to the new dry hydrant installed down the road.
“It definitely helped save things,” Jakubowski said. “We called for tankers, but we had a 4-inch line stretched to the fire trucks ... We didn’t need the tankers anymore.”
Pithers’ sister, Dr. Franky Porcaro, and her wife Kim started a GoFundMe page and a more successful Facebook fundraiser to collect clothes, household items and other donations for the family, accessible also through a link on Kim Porcaro’s page Balanced Holistic.
Kim Porcaro said the Facebook fundraiser, “Franky’s Personal Emergency Fundraiser,” has already raised almost $3,300 due to donations from 61 people, and interested parties can also directly contact Balanced Holistic out of Glens Falls, New York.
Victoria Covarrubias said her family liked everything they saw about the Rutland area — except its lack of good Mexican food.
“I couldn’t walk up to a taco truck any more so I had to do it myself,” the California transplant said as she served up taquitos at the Rutland farmers market Saturday.
Covarrubias is one of several new vendors who took up their spots when the farmers market moved back outdoors last month. She and her family moved to West Rutland from Oxnard two years ago.
“We were house-hunting in California and it was a little too expensive,” she said. “My husband always had it in his head to come out this way. We came here and fell in love with a house on Clarendon Avenue, so we packed up our kids.”
Covarrubias offers tacos, burritos and quesadillas. She said this is her first time cooking professionally.
“There was a need and we filled it,” she said. “My father-in-law, he was a chef for a long time. I made tamales helping my mother, so I was hands-on.”
A row over, Pauline and Jeffrey Jackson were selling a variety of sprouts and microgreens. A local, Jeffrey Jackson recently moved back to the area from France, his wife Pauline’s native country. The microgreen business is the fulfillment of a desire to start a market garden he’s had since living in France.
“This is a common trend in the market garden world,” he said of the sprouts. “When we came across it, we didn’t see anyone in the market here who was doing it. ... Our staple greens at the moment are sunflowers, radishes, peas and popcorn.”
“They’re organic, non-GMO popcorn kernels that we sprout and grow in the dark,” he said.
The resulting yellow shoots are sweet with a gentle crunch.
They also put their sprouts in pestos and vinaigrettes, for which the Jacksons say they sourced the other ingredients as locally as possible.
“Our vinegar comes from Yoder farm,” Jeffrey Jackson said. “The garlic comes from Dutchess. ... The incredible thing about microgreens in general is they can be up to 40 times more nutrient dense than their grown counterparts.”
The summer market runs Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Wednesdays from 3 to 6 p.m.
Rutland Middle School students will sing at a gala benefiting an organization geared toward substance abuse recovery later this month. A3
Starting today, the Rutland Herald will feature a revamped comics page. A8
A look at today’s playoff matchups as the high school spring sports season nears its end. B1
Book Discussion & Author Talk
“Those Turbulent Sons of Freedom: Ethan Allen’s Green Mountain Boys and the American Revolution.” Orwell Free Library offers a group book discussion in the picnic area, weather permitting. Bring book and a picnic. A talk by the author, Christopher Wren, at 2 p.m. 12:30-3:30 p.m. Mount Independence State Historic Site, 497 Mount Independence Road, Orwell, email@example.com, 802-948-2000.