You wouldn’t have guessed from the drive to Killington it was a ski day.
The air felt positively warm after the early week chills, and there wasn’t a flake in sight most of the way up the access road.
Nonetheless, Killington’s snowmakers did their job and the resort held opening day Friday. With COVID restrictions in place, the slopes were reserved exclusively for passholders who would certify they had met the state’s quarantine requirements.
All the skiers who gave interviews as they descended from the slopes said they lived in Vermont.
“I was impressed with how many trails they had open,” said Christian Diaz, 24, of Stockbridge. “The snow was really nice. I was just happy to be here again.”
There was a minority of vehicles with out-of-state plates in the parking lot, but many of the people loading skis in the backs of those vehicles said they had moved to Vermont in the past six months.
Alex Hom, 20, said he is from originally from Long Island and a student at MIT.
“We’re online, so I’m staying in Rutland for the semester,” he said. “It seemed like a nice place for me and my friends to hang out for a semester. I guess it was a little because of the skiing.”
Debbi Pierce said she moved her family to Killington from New York City in March to get away from COVID and to be closer to the slopes. When asked how they liked being so close to the ski resort, Pierce’s two daughters answered with wide grins.
“We were just waiting for them to finish their remote school,” Pierce said. “They were watching everybody in their little apartments just sitting there, and we were gearing up for the mountain.”
Jeff Farbaniec said his family had owned a second home in Chittenden for a couple years and they decided to relocate there from Saratoga Springs for the ski season. Farbaniec said he runs an energy company, which makes it easy to “at least partly” work remotely.
Farbaniec characterized conditions on the mountain Friday were “fantastic.”
“It’s probably the best opening day we’ve had ever,” he said.
Marc Rubenson, 68, said he was wintering in Vermont from Manchester, New Hampshire.
“I am in compliance,” he said of the quarantine requirements. “There’s also a lot of people who aren’t. I am not saying that to be critical. It’s a fact. ... Some I know because I know them. Some I know from talking to them.”
Rubenson said he won’t let the fear of encountering someone who has not quarantined keep him off the slopes.
“I was starved for skiing,” he said. “If they’re outside, following social distancing, and wearing a mask, I think the risk is pretty low. I think there’s more risk if they’re mingling in other places in the state.”
Kristina Tooker, a longtime resident of Pittsfield, said she had been one of the skiers hiking up the mountain and skiing down it after the resort shut down because of the pandemic last season.
“We did that once,” she said. “Right after that, they said please, don’t. I’m a former ski patrol, so we are rule-followers.”
Tooker said she had a “level of concern” about visiting skiers not following the quarantine rules.
“You want to believe in the good of people, that they will do the right thing,” she said. “I will still be skiing and supporting the mountain, as long as everyone is masked.”