Courtney DiFiore, Killington Resort’s communications/PR and social media manager, still pinches herself from time to time to make sure it’s all real. Having grown up, played and worked in the mountains of the Northeast, the prospect of making her living at “The Beast” always was something she dreamed about.
After all, Killington is known worldwide for its extensive skiing and riding — 92 miles of terrain spread across six mountain peaks (including Pico) and the most expansive lift network in eastern North America. DiFiore is equally excited to share everything Killington offers in summer and fall — including an 18-hole championship golf course, the Snowshed Adventure Center, 35 miles of mountain biking trails, 15 miles of hiking trails and much more.
As she finishes her first full year on the job, the adventure that is Killington continues to inspire her. New England Ski Journal caught up with DiFiore during the resort’s busy summer/fall season to get her thoughts on what makes Killington/Pico so magical — in every season.
New England Ski Journal: I understand when Killington posted for your position last year, you were pretty quick to respond?
Courtney DiFiore: I wasn’t job searching at the time, but a marketing role had popped up on social media, prompting me to reach out to a friend that works at Killington. He let me know that another position — my current role — was also open and was to be posted that day. I applied just hours after it was posted.
NESJ: I also understand Killington was pretty quick to make you an offer?
DiFiore: I had two interviews before the offer was made. The first was with the marketing manager and the second was with the entire marketing team, including Mike Solimano, president and general manager of Killington/Pico. From the date I applied to the day they offered me the job, it was only two weeks. In my experience, that’s the fastest turnaround I’ve ever had. I was thrilled to join the Killington team. I’m coming up on the year mark and I’m still just as excited to be a part of the team as I was from day one.
NESJ: Where did you grow up that this lifestyle has such an appeal for you?
DiFiore: I’m originally from upstate New York, Au Sable Forks. I feel pretty lucky to have grown up in the Adirondacks. It’s probably why I love the outdoors so much.
NESJ: When did you first start skiing and riding?
DiFiore: I owe my entry to the sport and the industry to my mom. She put me and my two older brothers in ski school when we were kids. I grew up skiing Whiteface Mountain. In middle school, I decided to try snowboarding. All my friends skied, but I really wanted to try something different. My mom bought me a used snowboard from a second-hand shop. It was way too big for me but I wasn’t aware at the time — though, I don’t think I would have cared. I was so excited to ride. I began hiking a little hill in our backyard to teach myself, but if I could go back in time I would definitely take a lesson and advise everyone to do so. I think that’s the way to go with most sports. Just take the lesson and start developing good habits from the start. It’s a lot harder to break bad habits than make new ones.
NESJ: You studied at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, N.Y., earning a degree in communications. Were you always interested in this field?
DiFiore: I’ve always been interested in journalism and public relations. In fact, I used to record my own radio show using a cassette tape recorder when I was little. I was the host, the commercials, the listeners calling in — heck, I even sang a few songs! Not well, I should add. But mostly, I just recorded songs from the actual radio.
NESJ: Where did you work prior to landing at Killington?
DiFiore: I landed the role of snow reporter at Stratton Mountain for the winter of 2012-13. Following the season, I got a full-time position in their marketing department as web marketing coordinator and over the years grew within the team. From there, I worked for the Olympic Regional Development Authority. I really missed Vermont and couldn’t fight the desire to come back — so I did, becoming marketing manager at a women’s health retreat in Ludlow. That was my last stop before Killington.
NESJ: How would you describe the pace of your work at Killington?
DiFiore: It’s been nonstop action since day one. Being a year-round resort, I don’t really get to catch my breath. Our winter season collides with summer operations, so there’s no down time in the spring or fall like many other resorts; and hosting the Audi FIS Women’s World Cup keeps me busy about six months out of the year. I love the connections I make; that’s really the best part of my work. I get to meet passionate people with unique stories.
NESJ: What do you love most about the fall season?
DiFiore: We see an influx of visitors in the fall and rightfully so. The fall colors bring guests from near and far to the resort. The best thing about fall in Killington is the energy — it’s different than other resorts I’ve experienced. Snowmaking starts soon, World Cup preparations have already been well under way and hardcore skiers and riders know what’s coming. The start of fall marks the countdown to the “longest season in the East.”
NESJ: For someone visiting Killington in the fall, do you have any insider “must-do” tips?
DiFiore: Those visiting Killington in the fall have to experience the view from Killington Peak, the second-highest peak in Vermont. On a clear day, you can see as far as the White Mountains to the east and Adirondacks to the west. These sweeping views are worth seeing all year round, but especially when they’re decorated in the fiery reds, burnt oranges and golden yellows of fall. For those looking for a more unique way of taking in the changing leaves, I’d suggest taking to the mountain biking trails.
NESJ: What are some of the most popular fall activities for visitors?
DiFiore: Killington is home to New England’s largest downhill mountain bike park. We offer three distinct mountain areas that allow for progression. It’s a great place to learn for first timers or send it for those advanced riders. Like much of Vermont, the surrounding area is a mecca for hiking. The Long Trial and Appalachian Trail run near Killington. Admittedly, I’m not a beer drinker but I have a lot of friends who do and they love the offerings around Killington. The top breweries nearby include Killington Beer Company, Long Trail Brewery and Harpoon Brewery.
NESJ: What is your favorite thing to do in the fall?
DiFiore: I love the action sports world and I crave outdoor adventure, so Killington really ticks all the boxes for me. In fact, thanks to the “Beast of the East,” I’ve found myself diving into a new sport for me, downhill mountain biking. And before you ask, yes, I took a lesson my first time out. It was great and I’m in love!