Killington founder Preston Leete Smith will be recognized for his ground-breaking contributions to the development of alpine skiing in New England and nationally at the resort he created from a trackless mountain on Saturday November 1, 2014. As the guest of honor at the New England Ski Museum’s annual meeting and Spirit of Skiing Award dinner, Smith will join ski luminaries like Stein Eriksen, Tyler Palmer, Penny Pitou and Tom Corcoran who share the Museum’s distinctive citation presented each fall to a person who embodies the celebrated and still-resonant phrase that “skiing is not just a sport, it is a way of life.”
“When I was four years old, I was totally intrigued by winter,” Smith told an interviewer from the Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum in 2011. “Anything that was frozen or glittered in the sun in the winter was a turn-on to me. My uncle got me on skis about age four, little short skis, down in southern Connecticut where there was not much snow. I took it up again when I was 16 years old at Mohawk Mountain and I was hooked from then on.”
“Skiing is certainly one of the healthiest sports you can do in the winter. It involves strenuous exercise and is good for the mind exercising control over your body. It is by nature rhythmical. It is something you can do with friends and you can do with your family. How many points can you have about one sport? Everybody should have the opportunity to do it.”
Smith’s career was devoted to enhancing the opportunity for everyone to learn to ski through advances he personally pioneered or which his area innovated through his direction and support. They included ski teaching techniques like the Graduated Length Method; innovations in snowmaking systems which he shared with areas across the country; objective snow reports that replaced the subjective excellent-good-fair-poor judgments of 1950s condition reports; a guide for beginning skiers that succinctly introduced them to the sport; free skiing arrangements for local children; and the lengthy seasons for which the area is best-known.
“He had one of the best management teams in the country, many of whom stayed with him for years,” noted former National Ski Areas Association Executive Director Cal Conniff. “He instilled a strong sense of his philosophy in his employees, encouraging them to be creative and innovative in seeking ways to enhance the ski experience and introduce better ways to serve the public.”
The selection of Preston Smith as the Spirit of Skiing honoree comes in the year when New England Ski Museum features as its annual exhibit Green Mountains, White Gold: Origins of Vermont Skiing in its Franconia Notch headquarters.
The event at the Killington Grand Resort Hotel begins with a reception at 5:00 PM and is open to the public with tickets available for $80 per person or $800 for a table of eight. Reservations may be made by calling New England Ski Museum at 800-639-4181 or visiting the Museum’s website, http://www.newenglandskimuseum.com/37th-annual-meeting-spirit-of-skiing-award-to-preston-smith/. All proceeds of the dinner support the mission of the non-profit organization to preserve the history of skiing in New England and elsewhere.