KILLINGTON, Vt. — Traditionally, Killington has hosted skiers in the winter and mountain bikers in the summer.
This season, the resort is combining the two.
Ski biking may be new to Killington, but Andrew Berlow, who oversaw ski bike rentals Saturday at the Snowshed base area, said ski bikes themselves have a long history. He said Brenter, the company that patented the first ski bikes and manufactures the ones available at Killington, goes back to 1949.
“It’s a family of Austrians,” Berlow said as he stood under an awning, out from the rain that was making it less than an ideal day to do much of anything on the slopes. “They’re all engineers. This bike that we’re using is in its sixth generation. . They’re very popular in Europe and the popularity out West has been growing.”
A ski bike is just what it sounds like — a bicycle frame atop skis. Berlow said they offer a lot of advantages to people who might be reluctant to get out onto the slopes on skis or snowboards.
“If you have any sort of muscular dystrophy, MS, just not strong — your weight is distributed on the bike,” he said. “You’re seated the entire time.”
Bercow said ski bikes offer a low-impact sport with an easy learning curve.
“It gets people with zero snow experience — most of the time, they’re comfortable getting on the lift in the first hour, which doesn’t really happen with skiing or snowboarding,” he said.
As for more experienced skiers, Bercow said, he was going down double black diamond trails by the end of his first day on ski bike — though he characterized himself as a lifelong skier. For the time being, ski bikes are only available at the Snowshed and Ramshead base lodges, where the resort has more of its introductory terrain.
Bercow said the bikes handle well in a variety of snowy conditions, from days like Saturday to those with more traditionally favorable skiing weather.
“The other day when we had that 20-inch storm, we got out first chair and it was a blast on powder,” he said.
Bercow said watching people discover ski bikes reminds him of the early days of snowboarding.
“Seeing something different on the mountain for the first time — there’s that ‘a-ha’ moment,” he said.
Information from: Rutland Herald, http://www.rutlandherald.com/