Killington World Cup Committee Gives Back to the Ski Community
By Peggy Shinn
This winter, the upper section of Pico’s B Slope is significantly wider, giving kids in Pico’s race program more training space. And the Woodstock Ski Runners aim to keep their Friday ski program affordable; it will remain at $85 for the next five years. The club is also offering a scholarship for one child who would like to join the club’s ski racing program.
It’s not resort funds or club dues that are paying for these improvements, and similar ones at 14 other ski and outdoor programs in the East. Monies are coming from the Killington World Cup Committee (KWCC).
The KWCC was the idea of Phill Gross. A long-time advocate of youth and adaptive sports — and a long-time Killington skier — Gross saw the crowd at the first Killington World Cup in 2017 and wondered if the popularity of the event, and the great venue, could provide an opportunity to give back to the ski community. The VIP access tickets had sold so quickly that Gross thought extra money could be raised if these tickets were offered as VIP packages. This additional money could provide funding to local ski programs in the East. It’s a model Gross had seen used successfully at PGA Tour golf tournaments.
“My idea was if we could put these VIP packages together and raise a little bit of money, then we could end up having the World Cup leave a positive impact on the ski community throughout the East,” said Gross, a co-founder and managing director of Adage Capital Management in Boston. He is also a U.S. Ski & Snowboard trustee, and he serves on the boards of several youth and adaptive sports organizations.
The KWCC offers three levels of World Cup premium VIP packages, ranging in price from $5,000 to $50,000. Each package includes tickets to the VIP tent at the base of Superstar, the World Cup slalom and giant slalom race trail, and tickets to the Peak Gala, which honored the 1968 Olympic alpine team last year, among other benefits.
Killington Resort also donates the proceeds from reserved grandstand seats to the KWCC.
With these funds, the KWCC pays the athlete hospitality fees — to give back to the resort. The organization then accepts grants requests from organizations in the East to either improve access to outdoor sports or to improve program infrastructure.
“We go to a lot of places where we just show up and have the race and we depart, and truthfully the only lasting thing for the community is the fact that they got to experience a World Cup race,” said Mike Day, Mikaela Shiffrin’s coach. “The Killington World Cup Committee is going well beyond that now to make sure that the impact is felt by many regional programs. It’s really special to have a group of people that want to give more in legacy to the region rather than just ski race.”
In March 2018, the KWCC awarded 16 grants ranging from $3,000 to $25,000. The grants went as far south as North Carolina (the Appalachian Ski Education Foundation received funding for infrastructure improvements) and as far north as Maine (the Winterkids Education Foundation was given a grant to expand its nordic program in Portland and to start programs in other communities).
“We gave grants where we felt like we could make an impact,” said Lynn Boynton, KWCC director.
In total, the KWCC gave away $207,000 last year and favored grants with matching components.
“You add all that up, and it’s a total impact of $350,000 to the ski racing community,” said Gross.
For the 2018 Killington World Cup, the KWCC will honor the 1980 Olympic alpine team, which trained at Killington before heading to Lake Placid. Tickets to the Peak Gala on Friday night are part of the VIP packages and are only available through the KWCC website. Packages are available starting in September at www.kwccgivesback.org.
“If the Killington World Cup continues in 2019,” said Gross, “we expect the KWCC to continue to make grants and have the same ticket opportunities.”