January is a time for new beginnings. In the ski industry, this is when the team reflects on the start of the season and recovers from the bustle of the holiday season. With The Blake at Taos Ski Valley open for its inaugural holiday season, the resort staff has been fully engaged in delivering the best experience possible despite the limited terrain and early season conditions. For us, seeing the bustling resort despite low snowfall reinforced the importance of Taos Ski Valley’s revitalization and continued investment in the mountain and resort infrastructure.
There is no question, Mother Nature has thrown us a curve ball this season. Machine-made snow has become our new lifeline. Several years ago we developed a plan to expand our snowmaking capabilities. Recently, we invested in low-energy, high-efficiency snowmaking guns, new air compressors and an automated plant allowing us to take full advantage of narrow, cold-temperature snowmaking windows. The investment has allowed us to support the winter tourism community while waiting for snow. Taos Ski Valley remains committed to balancing sustainable practices with critical business needs, supporting the organization’s B-Corp certification.
The mountain operations teams have done an exceptional job opening terrain: offering 2,500 vertical feet on nearly 200 acres of skiing, five lifts, three magic carpets and new gondolita. The available terrain has exceeded expectations and is the perfect venue for those discovering the joy of winter sports. Taos supports the National Ski Areas Association’s National Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month each January, an important part of the industry’s strategy to grow the number of new skiers and snowboarders.
Embracing this winter, the Ernie Blake Snowsports School team has focused on using these conditions as an opportunity to teach those new to the slopes as well as work with progressing skiers and riders. They are focusing on technique, improving edgework, balance and posture. Our team continues to remind me that the school’s history is founded on the “learn-to-ski-better” moniker. No better time to do that than right now.
For our younger guests, the brand-new children’s center and terrain-based learning, on-mountain program has already proven successful in helping kids become better skiers and riders. With six levels of grade changes from perfectly flat to a 25 percent slope, we are excited to introduce a “Perfect Progression” program designed for those new to the sport. This program offers learn to ski or snowboard lesson, beginner lift ticket and rental equipment at a value.
As we look ahead, the Taos Ski Valley team strives to keep this mountain magical for our community. The school groups that have visited over the last few weeks have been such an uplifting sight. Watching the students embrace a new adventure and leave with a sense of wonder and confidence reminds us why we are in this business.
This past Sunday (Jan. 21), with the best snowfall of the year, we capped off the Not Forgotten Outreach week that brings military families from all over the United States together at Taos Ski Valley for an experience filled with fun activities on and off the mountain. Thank you to all that attended and supported this extraordinary gathering.
We know the snow will return to the mountains of Taos. Until then, we are staying positive and remembering that the porrón is always half full.
Norden is CEO of Taos Ski Valley.