Congratulations to our Hometown Heroes

By Liz Millikin

Nothing compares to the excitement of watching the best of the best competing on the global stage. In the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games, 2,873 athletes from 88 countries competed in 98 events, going for the gold.

It was an especially exciting Olympics for the Stratton Mountain School, which sent a record-breaking 14 athletes to the competition. In addition to the SMS athletes, two more Olympic competitors have strong ties to the Stratton community as relatives to ski patrollers past and present.

Highlights included Alex Deibold’s bronze medal in Men’s Snowboardercross in his first Olympics as a competitor. (Last Olympics, Deibold supported the US Snowboard team in Vancouver as a wax tech.) Cross country skiers Sophie Caldwell and Jessie Diggins both made history by finishing better in the Sprint Free and 4×5 Relay (respectively) than any other American woman in history. For Sandra Hendrickson, the honor was to compete in the first ever Women’s Olympic Ski Jump, making her sport the talk of the town.

We are incredibly proud of all our athletes and honored to be a part of their Olympic dreams.

In alphabetical order by last name, please allow me to introduce the Stratton Olympians.

Emily Bamford
Stratton Mountain School ’10.
Competed in Women’s Slalom (DNF 2nd run) and Women’s Giant Slalom (50th place).

Mac Bohonnon
Son of current Stratton Ski Patroller Dave Bohonnon.
Competed in Men’s Aerials (5th place).

Sophie Caldwell
Stratton Mountain School ’08 and SMS T2 athlete.
Competed in Women’s 10 km Classic (32nd place), Women’s Team Sprint Classic (8th place) and Women’s Sprint Free finishing in 6th place, the best US Women’s finish ever.

Danny Davis
Stratton Mountain School ’06.
Competed in Men’s Snowboarding Halfpipe (10th place).

Alex Deibold
Stratton Mountain School ’04.
Competed and medaled in Men’s Snowboardcross (3rd place – BRONZE).

Jessie Diggins
SMS T2 athlete.
Competed in Women’s 30km Mass Start Free (40th place), Women’s Skiathlon (8th place), Women’s Sprint Free (13th place) and Women’s 4x5km Relay with the best US Women’s finish ever (8th place).

Alexandra Duckworth
Stratton Mountain School ’05  (Canada)
Competed in Women’s Snowboarding Halfpipe (17th place).

Kris Freeman
Stratton Mountain School ’99
Competed in Men’s 50km Mass Start Free (57th place), Men’s 15km Classic (52nd place) and Men’s Skiathlon (54th place).

Simi Hamilton
SMS T2 athlete.
Competed in Men’s Team Sprint Classic (6th place) and Men’s Sprint Free (27th place).

Sandra Hendrickson
Granddaughter of retired Stratton Ski Patroller Scott Hendrickson.
Competed in the first ever Olympic Women’s Ski Jump (21st place).

Jackie Hernandez
Stratton Mountain School ’10
Competed in Women’s Snowboardercross (23rd place).

Lindsey Jacobellis
Stratton Mountain School ‘03
Competed in Women’s Snowboardercross (7th place).

Klara Krizova
Stratton Mountain School ’07  (Czech Republic)
Competed in Women’s Super-G (17th place), Women’s Downhill (21st place) and Women’s Super Combined (19th place).

Andy Newell
Stratton Mountain School ’02
SMS T2 athlete
Competed in Men’s 4x10km Relay (11th place) and Men’s Sprint Free (18th place).

The North Face Park And Pipe Open

By Tyler Lewis

A week before the North Face Park and Pipe series the Stratton Parks Crew started reworking Big Ben. They custom made a park to showcase the advanced skills of the skiers. As the park started taking shape, things where looking intense, a 50 and 60-foot jump lead right into an up rail and down flat down rail to finish off.


The event kicked off Thursday, February 20th with registration and practice on the course. The weather was perfect for spectating (high 30s with tons of sun) but a little slow for the competitors. Despite the slow conditions, the athletes threw down some insane tricks, leaving my jaw on the snow. Friday’s qualifiers where canceled due to challenging weather, but that didn’t stop the athletes from having a little fun on Stratton’s other parks.

Come Saturday morning the sun beamed down over Stratton inviting all to enjoy and throw down on Big Ben as they vie for a spot on the podium. Qualifiers started at 10am sharp, each athlete had two attempts to impress the judges on course. After qualifications the judges picked the best 16 from the men and women classes and moved them on to the finals. With $9K on the line, the skiers put down their best runs for a shot at the cash. As 2pm approached the final skiers were taking their second runs, Keegan Kilbride and Jackie Kling won the overall in the men and women’s Slope Style with super impressive runs.           railjam

The final piece of the North Face Park and Pipe series was the nighttime rail jam under the lights. With $3K in prize money on the line, the skiers came with a huge bag of tricks.

Results below:

Men’s Slope
1.) Keegan Kilbride, 97.00
2.) Ben Smith, 94.33
3.) Connor Clayton, 88.67

Women’s Slope
1.) Jackie Kling, 78.33
2.) Rachael Anderson, 74.00
3.) Allison Perotti, 54.00

Men’s Rail Jam
1.) Max Moffatt
2.) Connor Clayton
3.) Ben Smith

Women’s Rail Jam
1.) Jackie Kling
2.) Rachael Anderson
3.) Allison Perotti

Planes, TRAINS & Automobiles

By Betsy Leiter

I recently had reason to travel via Amtrak from Stratton Mountain Resort to Penn Station, 34th Street ,  New York City.  The logistics in arriving at my destination were surprisingly simple and streamlined, so I thought our readers would appreciate some of the how to’s in making their own arrangements.

My trip started at 8:30am on a cold and wintery Tuesday morning up at Stratton. Local roads were clear and well plowed. Highways were spotless.  I drove Route 30, south on Vermont 7, over the 279 Bennington Bypass, and then West on New York Rte 7 to Rte 9. Follow 787 South about 8 miles, then take all exits to Rensselaer. Soon you’ll see well marked roads to Amtrak.  Follow those for long term parking, and enter the  parking garage.  One way the drive was  1.5 hours.

The parking garage rises up several levels, and you’ll be surprised how many cars are parked there, which is a vote of confidence about safety.  You’ll enter the station, and walk into a pleasant, warm waiting room complete with a well-stocked deli, restrooms, a car rental agency, a large ticket window staffed by real people who are very knowledgeable about the different routes, real paper maps and schedules (if you can remember how to read these), and a post office. Notifications on train arrivals and departures are easily read on multiple LCD screens throughout the room. My train, the Ethan Allen, departed on time at 11:15am.

The ride from Rensselaer to New York City takes about 2.5 hours. Make reservations on a route that includes the café car. I had a chicken salad sandwich, potato chips and a soda. All good.  Most passengers passed the time on lap tops or mobile devices since you can pick up wifi as soon as you enter the train. There are outlets in every seat cubicle for charging your device too. The train make quick stops at Hudson, Rhinecliff, Poughkeepsie, Croton-Harmon, and Yonkers before you arrive at Penn Station.  I arrived in New York City in the early afternoon, and was able to complete my business, catch a show, and return on the 5:47 the following evening. Thanks to technology, you can get on the train showing just an eticket on your mobile device, no printed copy necessary. In Albany, my car was right where I left it, and you pay a real attendant when you leave — $12 a day.  This is a good place to get rid of the $1 coins you may have collected from the MTA subway machines.

As I drove back to Stratton, relaxed and glowing, it was obvious that this service was excellent – clean, convenient, and fast. Already I was planning some personal trips that would allow me to get to the City without the complexities of inner City driving and parking. Amtrak offers severals discounts for children, seniors, and AAA consumers.  You can bring 2 pieces of luggage, one of which may be your skiis as long as they are not over 72” long. The other contains your personal belongings that can’t weigh over 50 lbs. There is plenty of storage room overhead and at the end of each car.  You’ll need to rent a car to drive from Amtrak to Stratton, and there’s a car rental agency on site.

So if you’d like a hassle free way of getting out of the City and spending some leisure time in the heart of New England, take Amtrak, and give it a try. You can leave New York Friday evening, and be back in time – refreshed and recharged —  for the Monday morning commute.

SMS alumnus Alex Deibold wins bronze!

By Meredith Morin

Sochi, Russia –Stratton Mountain School alumnus Alex Deibold (SMS ’04), Manchester, Vt., won bronze in the men’s snowboardcross (SBX) event at the Sochi Winter Olympics on Feb. 18.

The SBX was postponed from Feb. 17, due to extreme fog. Alex finished third in his 1/8 final heat to move onto quarterfinals, where he also finished third. (The top-three riders from these heats advance.) As the only American to advance to the Big Final (top six riders), he was in good position to score, and score he did, earning bronze in this event.

After winning his bronze, Alex took to social media, saying, “Wow. So that happened. Thank you to all the people who have supported me along the way, I wouldn’t be here without you.”

Alex is one of 12 SMS alumni competing in the Sochi Winter Olympics. “This is an exciting time to be a member of the SMS community and a resident of this area,” said SMS Headmaster Chris Kaltsas. “StrattonMountainSchool will have 12 athletes representing the school at the Olympics, and five of those are area Vermonters.”

Although this is the first time Alex will attend the Olympics as a competitor, it’s not his first trip to the Olympics “I went to the last Olympics as a wax tech for the US Snowboard Team, which was really hard work, but I was grateful for the experience of getting to go and help,” Alex said. “But now, making the team as an athlete is a dream-come-true. I’m so excited to experience all the things I got to watch my teammates get to do last time that I had to miss out on.”

On Dec. 21, 2013, Alex finished on the podium in third at the Lake Louise World Cup snowboardcross event. On Jan. 11, he finished 10th at the Vallnord Arcalis, Andorra World Cup. In 2013, Deibold placed second at the Sochi World Cup and made finals at four out of five World Cup starts in 2013. In 2011, he took seventh and fifth at World Cup races and earned a spot on the World Championship Team.

A Rare Treat For Vermonters

By Courtney DiFiore

Harry-Potter-HedwigYour dreams of being Harry Potter can finally come true! Well, kind of. If you’re a fan of the Potter series, you’re familiar with Hedwig, Harry’s snowy owl. Traditionally snowy owls nest in the Arctic tundra of the northernmost stretches of Alaska, Canada and Eurasia. However, this winter there have been sightings as far south as North Carolina! There’s been sightings in Vermont too, making it especially exciting.

The snowy owl normally nests on the ground or a boulder.  They’re attracted to open areas like coastal dunes and prairies that appear similar to tundra. Therefore, if you go searching try to look for an open field. This species has yellow eyes, a black beak and white feathers, sometimes spotted black (mostly in females). Because their migration this far south is extremely rare, we encourage everyone to keep their eyes peeled when traveling, hiking and snowshoeing this winter.

Things to remember when searching for the snowy owl:

  • Look in open spaces. Examples – coastal dunes and fields
  • Don’t just look on the ground. These owls like to sit on objects like barns, telephone poles and fence posts too.
  • Use eBird, a real-time bird map. This was a great find because it allows you to search by location and hot spots so you can find out what bird is near you and how recently one was spotted.

Two Sport Sunday

By Erin Morley

I started skiing in fourth grade when my mom signed me up for night skiing at our local mountain. Nobody in my immediate family skis, but my best friend skied and my mom thought I might like it. I did! I would say the only negative thing about my skiing in the early days was that I took one, maybe two lessons, and I ended up developing all sorts of bad habits. It definitely didn’t stop me from having fun, but it did stop my progression. Than life happened.

I moved out of the mountains to the city and the opportunities to get back on skis diminished. After several years, life led me back to the mountains, and I decided I wanted to learn how to snowboard. I was working at my local mountain so I was able to hand pick an instructor. Dave was great, he used some unconventional methods, but they are still with me today. I was very lucky, the first season I was learning to snowboard, I almost never went out without my trusty instructor. It really saved me from developing any bad habits and I progressed really quickly. For the last several seasons,  I have really been enjoying snowboarding, but last season I started thinking about skiing again. Not that I wanted to abandon snowboarding, but I wanted to add skiing back into my repertoire.

This past Sunday was a lovely day, especially since the conditions were great. I enjoyed several snowboarding runs with my favorite snow buddy than at lunch, I thought, today would be a great day to get back on skis. I went to the rental shop, got some equipment and headed out. We started on Mike’s Way as I wanted to give myself some time to get back into the swing of things, but I was amazed how quickly it came back and how easy the new shaped gear makes the process.

It was one of the best days I have had on the slopes. Switching to skis brought back an old sensation in a new way and it made me appreciate my runs on the snowboard as well.

Now, I am looking forward to joining some ski lessons here at Stratton to help refine my technique and make sure I don’t get into those bad habits again. It’s never too late to try and learn something new or rediscover something old.