After five decades of being one of the few remaining mountains open exclusively to skiers, New Mexico's Taos Ski Valley announced this week they're going to change history. Taos will invite snowboarders to its slopes beginning March 19, 2008.
"It's something we've been talking about forever, said Adriana Blake, marketing director and granddaughter of the founder of Taos Ski Valley. "We made the true decision in July 2007, but the change has been something we have discussed constantly.
Why March? That's Taos founder's Ernie Blake's birthday. "In a way it's ending one era and beginning another, and also incorporating his birthday into the celebration, Adriana said. The fourth weekend in March will be one of celebration: a fireworks display, torchlight parade, and music. And don't forget about the pond skimming championship, which promises to be a spectacle with an 80-foot pool of ice-cold water.
Not only is it the founder's birthday, but March also gives the Taos staff two and a half weeks to test run the addition of snowboarders before they end their 2007-2008 season. "You think you know everything that's going to happen but really you don't, Adriana said. "It gives us three weeks to see what the issues are with the additional traffic and deal with that over the summer.
Since its opening in 1955, Taos has been a family resort. Many of the first employees at Taos still work there, including Jean Mayer, the technical director of the ski school, who began in 1958 and Walter Ruegg, head of lift maintenance since 1967.
The staff at Taos met this week to tell their staff about the decision. "The staff was shell-shocked at first, Adriana said. "It's kind of sad because we're ending what we've been doing for a really long time. But after the shock settled, our staff was like 'bring it on.'
The community has been buzzing about the news. Linda Mogetz, one of the owners of The Boot Doctors, said she was happy to hear Taos is inviting snowboarders. She's been trying to persuade the resort to include snowboarders for the last 10 years. "Even people who are just there for skiing are happy because they realize that it's going to be better for the community, Mogetz said. "Because if one person in the family snowboards, the family won't come to Taos.
Many of the people in the community are ready for the change, Adriana said. "We're ready for this, we're psyched for this change and we're ready to share the mountain with everybody, Adriana said. "I almost wish we could have snowboarders this weekend because of all the snow we got this week.