STRATTON MOUNTAIN, Vt. — The boxy gondola at Stratton Mountain Ski Resort is a snug ride. When you shuffle in you’ll invariably rub elbows with others. Although the trip up 2,003 feet to the summit is quick, savor it, as the views are stunning and you’ll be gliding over some of the best terrain in New England. And those elbows you’re nudging just might belong to a future Olympic gold medalist.
Stratton is a legendary race hill. The renowned Stratton Mountain School, or SMS, sits at its base, where a blend of academics and intensive ski instruction have, for three decades, generated a legacy of Olympic and national athletes. Skiers like Caitlin Zeliff, 18, a postgraduate skier who is honing her skills before taking them into national competition, spend almost every day training here. The nation’s 16th-fastest slalom racer in her class as of the time of this writing, Zeliff will be attending the University of Denver this fall, hoping to go big with her sport. She has high aspirations, saying that “the Olympics are on my radar. It’s in the back of every racer’s mind.”