THE KELLY BRUSH RACE ARENA — FACT 13 of 50
Located just seven minutes from the GMVS campus, Inverness and Brambles have been home to GMVS training since 1979. With bottom to top access via a quad chair and varied rolling terrain, the Inverness trail has always offered the perfect canvas for young athletes taking their first turns in a course to those on National teams training for an upcoming World Cup race.
Since the early 70’s, the Inverness trail has been transformed into the Kelly Brush Race Arena – a showcase for ski racing safety that was established in 2012 in honor of Kelly Brush ‘04 who sustained a spinal cord injury while racing for Middlebury College. It was at that time GMVS doubled down on its commitment to venue safety, installed 150+ rolls of safety b-net, widened the neighboring Brambles trail and installed a new T-bar on the skier’s right lower section of Inverness.
Establishing the KBRA in 2012 was just the beginning of a larger effort to improve and expand the training and race venue GMVS. For years GMVS dreamt of more varied and challenging terrain, more training lanes, more consistent training surfaces and an ability to host higher level and championship races. In 2018, a generous grant from the Killington World Cup committee set the stage for a more comprehensive KBRA improvement project and GMVS set forth to continue transforming the Arena into a world-class training and race venue.
In November 2019, ‘The Connector” was completed between Inverness and Brambles, transforming the KBRA into one of the most unique, flexible and challenging race venues in the east. It simultaneously doubled the training space and enabled GMVS to host races while also facilitating meaningful training.
In the fall of 2019, GMVS received approval from the State of Vermont to begin construction of a new, full-length T-bar on Inverness to replace the 62-year old Poma. T-bar construction began in the spring of 2020 and the new lift took its first riders up in the winter of 2021. With a speed of 700 feet-per-minute and a total ride time of five-and-a-half minutes, the new T-bar enabled GMVS to increase overall uphill capacity and training volume on full-length giant slalom and super-G courses. In addition, the newly-added mid-station feature allows coaches and racers greater flexibility and the ability to use the KBRA’s expansive space and terrain in innovative and creative ways. At full operation, the KBRA can now accommodate 4 GS training courses at once or up to 5 training lanes including a full length SG.
Alpine Program Director Steve Utter notes, “There is simply no better alpine training venue than Inverness and Brambles, especially as an environment for a constraints-led approach to learning ski skills. In addition, the speed of the new T-bar provides our athletes all the gate training volume they need while freeing time to focus on other athletic priorities.”
Today, Inverness and Brambles are two of the most highly coveted trails on Mt. Ellen, and are almost always closed to the general public and used almost exclusively for GMVS training or racing. Private lift access to two dedicated U.S. Ski & Snowboard and FIS homologated training trails (Inverness and Brambles) provides athletes with innumerable training permutations — from full length GS to slalom drill courses on either steeps or flats. With its challenging terrain and extensive snowmaking capacity, KBRA often hosts U.S. Ski & Snowboard regional projects and several top NCAA collegiate teams.