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Slopeside with Nick Borelli: Pico - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Slopeside with Nick Borelli: Pico

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KILLINGTON, Vt. -

John McClallen of Wallingford knows Pico Mountain's terrain like the back of his hand.

"I've been skiing here since the 50s when I was a little kid," McClallen said.

Today, McClallen still skis Pico about three times a week. It's the layout of the mountain that keeps him coming back.

"It's kind of compact. It's fairly well spread out, but it's easy to get around, on the mountain that is," he explained.

For others, the local vibe is a draw.

"It's locals," said Deborah Goodwin of Stockbridge. "I have a group of ladies I ski with who are local; we come up in the mornings, and it's a nice, friendly mountain."

While Pico is a lot smaller than its sister mountain, Killington, it still packs a punch, offering almost 2,000 feet of vertical and 500 acres of skiable terrain. The views aren't too bad either.

"Pretty sweet," Goodwin said. "Look at the beautiful sky. You can probably see Mount Washington that way. You can definitely see the Adirondacks from the chairlift over there. It's really beautiful."

Take a deep breath, and there's nothing but fresh mountain air. Back in the 2010-2011 season, Pico was the first resort in the east to completely ban smoking.

"It's been awesome," said Tracy Taylor of Pico. "We've partnered with the American Cancer Society and it's fabulous. It's just such a pleasure to be out in this beautiful air without it being inhibited by smoking."

While you won't find anyone smoking on the mountain, you'll find plenty of folks making some turns, thanks to plentiful March snow and cold temperatures, conditions are firm and fast. A few turns into a trail and you know you're in for a good time.

"They are great. It's really nice. I was afraid it was gonna be icy but not at all. It's really sweet," Goodwin said.

"It's a hard surface but with powder on top," McClallen said.

Conditions like this are a little out of the ordinary for this time of the year. Here's something that's pretty rare; the sun is out in late March but the snow is really dry. This means skiers are having a good time and aren't giving up on winter just yet, even if it means a delayed spring.

"I'm happy. My husband's not happy. He's got to plow the driveway. But I'm happy," Goodwin said.

"I'm not ready for spring yet," McClallen said. "Usually around this time of year I am, but this year I'm not."

Ready or not, we all know it's just a matter of time before warmer weather arrives and ski season comes to an end. In the meantime, skiers like McClallen are loving what the mountain has to offer.

"Yes, I do," he said.

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