KILLINGTON — Killington Mountain School has debuted a new downhill mountain bike program, which started this fall.
“We are the first to offer a full-time, competitive middle- and high-school level downhill mountain bike program at the academy and club development levels,” explained Head of School Tao Smith.
The new program has a dedicated downhill coach and student-athletes will compete on race circuits as a KMS downhill mountain bike team.
“This program will raise the profile of KMS as a leader in downhill mountain biking and as a committed sports academy,” said Smith. “Being the first to offer such a program shows that we are the most committed to the sport.”
KMS trains at Killington Resort, the largest mountain resort in Eastern North America, located just one mile from the KMS campus. After a five-year build-out with Gravity Logic, Killington is now the largest Bike Park in the East with 35 miles of downhill mountain biking trails and further expansions underway. The resort offers a combination of flow, technical terrain, and jump trails – all which make Killington an ideal location for KMS’s youth downhill mountain bike team. Additionally, KMS is situated in close proximity to the Eastern State’s Cup Race circuit (the largest Enduro and downhill mountain biking circuit in the U.S.) as well as World Cup mountain bike training venues including Windham, Monte St. Anne, Tremblant, Mountain Creek, and Burke.
While this program represents a new commitment to downhill mountain biking, the sport is not new to KMS. Its students and alumni have become leaders of the growing sport, competing and winning at elite levels nationwide.
KMS alumni and Pittsfield, Vermont, native Mazie Hayden, is one such leader. A professional mountain biker, Hayden represented the USA at the 2017 World Mountain Bike Championships in Australia, finishing ninth in the junior women's downhill. In 2018, she finished third in a UCI World Cup downhill mountain bike race in Mont St. Anne, Canada, then two weeks later landed a silver medal in skicross at the 2018 FIS Junior World Championships in Cardrona, New Zealand. This year, Aug. 29-Sept. 1 she competed at as part of the USA National Team at the Mountain Bike World Championships in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec, finishing 22 in a competitive field.
The new mountain bike team will join KMS's other cycling and athletic programs that have a proven track record of success, said Smith. In order for student-athletes to get the very most from the world-class training venues, KMS employs “professional and experienced coaches that are the best in the country,” Smith added.
KMS’s downhill mountain bike team is led by a new coach: Jason DiDomenico. DiDomenico has been part of the Killington community for over 25 years, but his passion for all things two-wheeled began much earlier. He started racing motocross at age 5 and grew up traveling and competing. He turned professional at 16 and raced AMA Supercross and the AMA outdoor national series. When not racing motocross, DiDomenico was racing BMX and mountain bikes. After his racing career, he transferred to the technical side and managed several different bike shops in the Killington Area. He has been a volunteer coach with the local youth mountain bike club for years and enjoys riding with his family.
“I am thrilled to be a part of this new team at KMS,” said DiDomenico. “I have a true passion for the sport and for helping others to develop their skills.”
“DiDomenico’s vast technical knowledge combined with the understanding of what it takes to be a successful professional athlete will benefit the KMS and local athletes tremendously,” said Davis Willis, assistant head of school and chief operating officer at KMS.
KMS riders participated in their first event as a mountain bike team on Aug. 4, 2019, when the MAXXIS Eastern States Cup Enduro & Downhill was held at Killington Resort. KMS rider Gabe Johnson stood atop the podium in first place for the U12 class and teammate Owen Crossman finished on the podium in fifth in a stacked U15 class, DiDomenico said.
KMS boasts an academic track record equal to its athletic prowess. KMS graduates have matriculated at Dartmouth, Boston College, Babson, Middlebury, Colby, Bates, St. Lawrence, Stanford, Villanova, McGill, Furnham, Lindenwood, UNH, UVM, Utah, Denver, Boulder, Sierra Nevada College, to name just a few.
The KMS structure and curriculum enables ideal student-athlete balance and teaches life-long skills of time-management, independence, leadership, and accountability that serves students well through college and beyond, Smith continued. The entire experience at KMS – from athletics and academics to social consciousness locally and globally – is aimed toward the same goal: to create life-long learners who know how to train to excel, he said.
“KMS takes you places,” is more than just the school’s motto, Smith said. “With the foundation established here at KMS, we truly believe our student-athletes are prepared to be the leaders of tomorrow, helping to solve the most pressing issues of our time.”
For more information about the KMS downhill mountain bike team, other athletic programs or academics, visit killingtonmountainschool.org.
Killington Mountain School is a private academy located near the base of Killington Resort, the largest mountain resort in Eastern North America. KMS offers winter- and full-term academic and athletic programs for grades 7 to post-grad. For over 40 years, KMS has provided student-athletes the opportunity to pursue excellence on the slopes and in the classroom. KMS is accredited by NCAA and New England Association of Schools & Colleges and is a State of Vermont approved independent school. It has received recognition of excellence, including US Cycling Center of Excellence; US Ski & Snowboard High-Performance Center and US Ski & Snowboard Gold Club.
In addition to professional mountain biker Mazie Hayden, KMS has produced multiple National Champions, Junior National Champions and Junior Worlds participants in a variety of athletic disciplines including World Cup alpine skiing, freestyle skiing,cross-country mountain biking, downhill mountain biking, cyclocross, road cycling, skicross, boardercross; Olympic Alpine skiing, and adaptive sports.
Photo by Jason DiDomenico.
KMS Downhill MTB team member Gabe Johnson drops in at the start of the Killington Eastern Cup Race Aug. 3, 2019.