KILLINGTON — Last year’s HomeLight Killington Cup event generated more than $200,000 for ski-related charities across New England, but with the event’s cancellation this year, what comes next is uncertain.
The Killington World Cup Foundation announced Thursday it awarded $228,000 through 21 grants spread across eight states.
The HomeLight Killington Cup is an event on the Audi FIS Ski World Cup circuit held at Killington Ski Resort. It’s been held there for the last few years, drawing nearly 40,000 people to the area in 2019. It’s organizers announced that it wouldn’t be held there this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It started with a group of folks who wanted to give back to the ski community in the Northeast,” said Lynn Boynton, director of the KWCF. “We sell VIP tickets and VIP packages and that’s where we get all our money from, and then we turn around and give out grants. Everything we take in we turn around and give back out again.”
The grants all go to nonprofits, she said, and are between $1,000 and $25,000. They’ve been used to fund facilities upgrades, trail improvements and, in some cases, help keep the cost of the programs down, as many are aimed at teaching children who might not otherwise be able to afford the lessons.
Boynton said the application deadline for the grants was in mid-March, prior to the pandemic becoming a major factor in most people’s lives, so none were related to COVID-19 safety measures.
About a quarter of the programs and projects that received awards are going forward this year, she said, and money will be doled out as they come together.
What will be available for grants next year isn’t known, given the World Cup’s cancellation.
“We don’t save anything, so it’s been an open discussion right now,” said Boynton. “Obviously, when the World Cup comes back, we’re right there working alongside them and doing it again. My guess is, and I don’t have anybody telling me this, is that a lot of programs that were given grants this year might not be able to complete the work this year, so they might go forward next year.”
Locally, one of the grant recipients was the Killington Ski Club. Bryan Hopkins, vice president of the club, said the award was for $17,600 to build a structure near the Swirl trail at Killington Ski Resort that will house communication and timing equipment as well as serve as a break area for skiers.
Hopkins said that will require an Act 250 permit, and, given the state of the pandemic, the decision was made to postpone the permitting and construction.
“We do anticipate doing it, it’s just been delayed,” he said.
Another awardee was the Woodstock Ski Runners. Terry Hartford, club manager for the Woodstock Ski Runners, said it’s based at Suicide Six and has a Friday ski instruction program that sees 330 children from local school districts on the mountain. Hartford said the KWCF has committed to giving the program $5,000 per year for five years, but it’s not clear yet if the program can operate this year because of the pandemic.
He said the money keeps the cost down at $85 per child over the course of the eight-week program.
“We, like everybody else, are working through all the guidelines and figuring out if we can safely run the program with the schools,” he said. “You can imagine 330 students turning up on a Friday at a ski hill all coming in buses from all the school districts; I’m not going to lie, going to be a challenge.”
The other Vermont awards, according to Boynton, were to the Pico Ski Education Foundation, the Bromley Outing Club, Burke Mountain Academy and the Kelly Brush Foundation.