Breaking Down Barriers So All Kids Can Ski | Taos Ski Valley | SantaFe.com

Written by Daniel Gibson |

Top image: Some of the lucky kids enrolled in a Taos Ski Valley youth program on the beginner’s area. Photo courtesy TSV. | 

Growing the base of the skiing populace is something Taos Ski Valley takes seriously, and in an effort to expand access to what has become a sport largely for a well-to-do white audience, the ski area has just launched a program to eliminate barriers so all youth can experience the joys of skiing and the respite of nature.

Working with a number of local and national organizations, it aims to significantly expand youth accessibility at the resort this winter.

“Diversity, equity, and inclusion are critical for the ski industry to address. Here in Taos Ski Valley, our B Corporation ethos helps advance these goals locally,” notes TSV CEO David Norden. “Our social responsibility work means we pay a living wage and ensure we have pay equity across all jobs regardless of age, race, or gender. It also means we must provide more and better access to the outdoors for children. We’re thrilled to have rolled out a broad youth equity program this season.”

Thanks to collaboration with several regional schools, and local and national nonprofits and specialty organizations, children and teenagers have numerous ways to access mountain recreation and lessons at the ski area this winter, at rates that work for their families. Special opportunities are available for children of color, economically disadvantaged families, special needs youth, and more. The program includes several elements.

Inclusion of Pueblo and Regional Youth, and kids with Special Needs

Young skiers at Taos Ski Valley.
An instructor gets the tykes up to “Top of the World” at the summit of Chair 2 at Taos Ski Valley; Kachina Peaks rises behind them. Photo courtesy TSV.

Through a variety of grant programs, and in collaboration with Working on Wellness and the Share the Winter Foundation, youth in grades 4 – 12 from the Taos Pueblo community will have the opportunity to ski for five days for free. This will include lift tickets, clothing and equipment rentals, and full or half-day lessons. This offering is named in memoriam of Charles N. Romero, a member of the Taos Pueblo community and longtime TSV employee. Pueblo residents interested in the program should contact Aurora Valdez ([email protected]) or Sage Yardley ([email protected]).

Students in general from the region in grades 1 – 12 will also have the opportunity to ski at a steeply discounted rate once a week for five weeks this winter. The program kicked off Jan. 4 and includes half-day lessons all five days, lift tickets, rental equipment, and special on-mountain education.

The cost is $165 for Taos County residents, and $185 total for students outside of Taos County. Scholarships are also available to students who qualify. Residents interested in the program should speak with their school.

Taos will also continue working with the Taos Winter Sports Team to identify and reach out to special needs youth and support getting them on the mountain. TSV offers adaptive ski programs to suit a wide range of abilities and needs. The cost varies according to a family’s abilities and the student’s needs. Scholarships are available to students who qualify. Residents interested in this program should contact Peter Donahue ([email protected]).

Female & Lower Income Students Focus

Taos Ski Valley Learning Center
The Taos Ski Valley Learning Center greets dawn in the Hondo Valley. Photo by Jeff Caven, courtesy TSV.

On Jan. 30, Taos Ski Valley will host the SheJumps Wild Skills Junior Ski Patrol, a day camp for girls to learn mountain safety and first aid while working with the strong women of the ski patrol community. SheJumps is a nonprofit that increases the participation of women and girls in outdoor activities to foster confidence, leadership, and connection to nature and community through free and low-cost outdoor education. The one-day program costs $45. Girls interested in the program can visit the event website.

A new fund held by the Taos Community Foundation has been established with an initial contribution of $50,000 from TSV. The intention of this fund is to give Taos and Colfax County children who may have financial barriers the ability to experience outdoor recreation through skiing and snowboarding, hiking, snowshoeing, and more.  It is anticipated that granting from the fund will begin in the near future. 

In addition, TSV employees receive a 75 percent discount off any children’s programs, lessons, rentals, or lift tickets for their dependents.

Grantmaking and scholarship selections for the above programs are made by regional schools, the Taos Community Foundation, the Share Winter Foundation, and Taos Winter Sports Team.

“Being outdoors is critical for developing minds, and maintaining mental and physical health, yet some kids in our community don’t have the ability to enjoy our local mountains and rivers to develop a love for nature and outdoor recreation,” says Lisa O’Brien, director, Taos Community Foundation. “Our new Give a Kid a LIFT fund, as well as the other generous contributions from Taos Ski Valley and other local and national nonprofits, are helping eliminate some barriers in the outdoor industry here in New Mexico this winter.”

Taos Ski Valley has also continued its popular and steeply discounted youth program Shredders, which provides any child ages 6 – 13 with five consecutive weeks of full-day lessons, on either Saturdays or Sundays. Shredders began on Jan. 8. Lift tickets, rentals, and lunch are also included for a total cost of $550. There will be an additional Afternoon Shredders program offered in February and March for $400.

For further details, regional youth or families interested in identifying affordable access opportunities to winter recreation can contact [email protected].

EVENTS AND SKI CONDITIONS AS OF 2/2/22

On the events front, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, has announced that Ben Harper will be the headliner for the return of its Rendezvous Festival, being held April 1 – 2. Fitz and The Tantrums will highlight the event’s first night of performances. On April 2, the show will open with reggae masters The Wailers, followed by alt rock favorites Cold War Kids, and culminate with Harper and his band The Innocent Criminals. Admission is free, with VIP attendance available as well. For details, see JacksonHole.com.

Ski Santa Fe reports a 36-inch base, but it’s snowing as this is written mid-afternoon on Wednesday, Feb. 2, and the forecast calls for heavier snow tonight! I expect almost every run on the mountain will be open beginning this Friday or Saturday. It has been skiing remarkably well, even before this round. Currently, 77 or 86 runs are open. Saturday the Troy Brown Trio will perform on the Totemoff Deck from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Next Saturday, JJ & The Hooligans take to the stage with a mix of rock, blues, Americana, and pop.

Taos Ski Valley is really in the center of this one, and has a 65-inch base at mid-Shalako, with two feet in the past 24 hours and more coming overnight. There is a good chance the Kachina Chair will open once the new snow settles, but even without it, most runs on the mountain are open and in excellent shape.

Wolf Creek has a phat 96-inch base and has received a massive 249 inches so far this season. The Meadow Loop and Lake Spur of the Nordic Track were groomed and set on Jan. 30. Wolf Creek will host the Howlin’ Wolf Super-G/Downhill from the top to the bottom of the area on April 2. Pre-registration is required; for details visit Wolf Creek eStore. Check in is at Base Camp at 8 a.m. The race is open to individuals and teams. Entry for 18 and under is $15, plus a $31 lift ticket. Over 18, it’s $25 entry and a $60 lift ticket.

Angel Fire Resort checks in with a 22-inch base, with snow falling. Some 44 of its 81 runs are skiable now, and both terrain parks in action.

Red River has a two-foot base and 49 runs open, including about half of its expert runs, including the twisting and plunging Cat Skinner.

Pajarito Mountain
Pajarito is primed and ready to greet skiers and snowboarders following some extended snowfalls. Photo courtesy Pajarito Mountain.

Pajarito Mountain’s opening of its beginner runs right in the base area last weekend was great news, and with snow falling now, chances are even more terrain will get the green light this weekend. Their rental shop was not open last week. Pajarito Mountain has picked up seven inches so far this storm and will be opening new lifts and terrain this Friday – Sunday, after getting operations underway last weekend on beginner runs. In addition to the Beginner Chair and Magic Carpet, the Aspen Chair — serving intermediate and even expert runs — will open. And Manager Tom Long hopes to get the Mother lift operational as well, greatly expanding skiing terrain.

Sipapu has an 18-inch base and 31 runs open, but just a handful of expert runs.

Ski Apache has a single beginner lift in operation, but it’s snowing hard.

Sandia Peak remains closed.

Telluride is crusing with a 47-inch base and an impressive 131 inches so far this winter. It has 128 of its 148 runs open, and 3 of its four terrain parks rockin’.  Yet to go are the Gold Hill hike-to double-blacks and the upper reaches of Palmyra Peak.

Crested Butte reports a 72-inch base, and 171 inches this season so far. Every run is open, except The Peak, Banana High Entrance and Teo 2.

Monarch Mountain chimes in with a 53-inch base, and all terrain skiable. On Sunday, Feb. 13, join Telefestivus, a free festival of telemarking, with a look at the newest in telemark equipment, competitions, a guided social hike to Mirkwood, avalanche awareness classes, and lots of free heelin’ fun.

Purgatory is sitting on a 40-inch base, and is 100 percent open. On Feb. 5 it will present a Demo Day, with trials costing $20 (cash only at base of Chair 1). Tubing is back in the Columbine area on weekends from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are $15 per hour per guest ages 3-plus, and will be sold at the Columbine ticket office only (not online, or at ticket office, or Purg Sports Main). The Inferno Snowcoaster is also open at the same times.

Arizona Snowbowl has a 44-inch base and 44 runs open, but none of its hike-to stuff.

Dan Gibson
Snowsports journalist Daniel Gibson, photographed at Red River.

Daniel Gibson is the author of New Mexico’s only comprehensive ski guidebook, Skiing New Mexico: Snow Sports in the Land of Enchantment (UNM Press, 2017). His new book, Images of America: Skiing in New Mexico, was recently released from Arcadia Publishing with 183 historic photos. He is a member of the North American Snowsports Journalist Association and has written on the topic for newspapers coast to coast, web sites, and magazines including PowderSki, and Wintersport Business. His first day on wooden skis with wooden edges came at age 6 in 1960 on a snowy day at the former Santa Fe Ski Basin. He can be reached at [email protected] or via www.DanielBGibson.com.

This article was posted by Cheryl Fallstead

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