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Summer Skiing: Killington, Vt.

Killington once battled Sugarbush for late-skiing bragging rights in the East. The Bush has since thrown in the towel, leaving it to Big K to reign supreme long after the maples have budded.

Skiers come to play on the average of nearly 7 feet of snow that falls after March 1, and on the mountains of manmade laid down throughout the winter. The season can stretch as long as June 22, as it did in 1997. Grooming usually stops after May 15, and soft corn bumps are the rule. For the best skiing, click into your boards at first chair and carve up the firm early morning snow. Later in the day, head to Outer Limits and Superstar, whose now soft bumps will make you look better than you are.

But enough of skiing: Every weekend's a party at Killington. The Sunshine Daydream festival lures the Dead Heads in early April, and annual May 1 and June 1 Fun Slaloms bring out the racers. But the hottest ticket is the Bear Mountain Mogul Challenge (April 8-9). A living room springs up in the base area: Dilapidated Barca Loungers and pathetic plaid couches are hauled in by spectators who define a new genus¿alpine couch-potato. They come to watch¿and are rewarded with some of the best bumpers in the East. Among them, the First Lady of Moguls, Olympic gold medal winner Donna Weinbrecht, a New Jersey girl who grew up on the local slopes and won her first title long before she earned her driver's license.

Weinbrecht held her own on the après-ski circuit, too. And let's face it, it's when the lifts close that a Killington summer-skiing weekend truly takes on speed. Weinbrecht remembers (albeit vaguely) hitting the still popular Casey's Caboose for the free wings during happy hour. These days, the party progresses to the Outback, where there's likely to be a guitar player or two competing with the din of suntanned skiers discussing the day's adventures. On a good night things keep rockin' well after sunset, and the partiers simply migrate to the other side of the building, where the Nightspot is just getting cranked up for another rowdy evening.

Weinbrecht also recalls a signature Killington spring drink called the Goombay Smash. "It was seven different kinds of liquor, I think," she says. It's all in a Killington spring weekend, the mecca for late-season East Coast skiers. Revelers ski hard and play harder. And only the truly hardcores make first chair in the morning.

Hot Facts
1999 Closing Date May 25
Summer Terrain The action is on Outer Limits (and, of course, the Bear Mountain deck) while the snow lasts; as the season progresses, it moves to Superstar (and the Killington Base Lodge deck) for the finale.
Lift Ticket About $35 in April, then progressively cheaper. The last day, whenever it hits, is free.
Don't Miss Brunch and mountain views on the deck at Choices (802-422-4030).
Contact (800) 621-6867; http://www.killington.com "> www.killington.com

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