Less than a year after splitting his chin open at the U.S. Championships at Killington, Landon Gardner skis a dual moguls qualification run during the Visa Freestyle International at Deer Valley Resort on February 2, 2008. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
PARK CITY, UT—(Oct. 31) It was March 25, 2007, and—down to his last dual moguls run at the Sprint U.S. Freestyle Championships hosted by Killington—freestyle moguls athlete Landon Gardner had all his teeth intact. Fast forward to August 28, 2011, when those in Killington and the surrounding area had all their homes, utilities and lives in tact. Within a matter of hours, however, the two would need each other in ways they never could've foreseen.
Upon landing the first air of his last run, Gardner's knee violently met his chin, splitting it open and chipping several of his teeth. Gardner still went on to win his run, but required stitches for his chin and a dentist for his teeth. After sewing him up, the Killington clinic made a phone call to a couple in nearby Rutland, VT, who in a matter of hours had him back at the mountain, albeit bandaged, but on his way to recovery.
Over four years later, on Aug. 29, Hurricane Irene made landfall in New England, tearing through Vermont and flooding the state. Killington's K-1 base lodge was partially destroyed along with roads and homes in the Route 4 area, and 12,000 people were left without power.
It was in the wake of such devastation that Gardner channeled his inner dentist, so to speak. From September 22-28, Gardner set up ten eBay auctions, selling items such as goggles, bindings, and, notably, a bib from when Killington hosted the National Championships in 2007, with all the proceeds going to Killington Community Relief (KCR).
"It's one of the first times that I've done something like this, and I do have some really fond memories of that place," he said. "There's more than just you and the mountain, there's community, resorts and people."
In reaching out to KCR, Gardner was looking to target precisely those people who live in the Killington area and were in need post-Irene.
"They told a pretty compelling story about families who were displaced and schoolchildren who were living with other families," said Gardner. "And I knew right then that any amount of money I could raise would go to a good cause. That's one of the reasons it stuck with me, it's a little closer to the individuals."