The sun was sharp, the hills were white and Cortez Lopez was psyched. He had heard it was opening weekend at Ski Santa Fe and drove up from Albuquerque with his friends.
“The feeling of going down and having control of your board and being able to carve. … It’s just a feeling that I never felt with anything else,” said Lopez, 21, who added he has been snowboarding for about two years.
He and hundreds more hit the slopes Saturday, and the soft swish of skis and boards and the low drone of the chairlift were music to the ears of Tommy Long , 35, the operations manager at Ski Santa Fe. Last year, he said, the mountain’s capacity was limited due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“Our busiest times, we were limited to 500 guests,” he said. “What we ended up doing was we required everybody to book online. And when we filled up, we were full for that day.”
This year, guests can buy their lift tickets and lessons in person as well as online — “and we don’t have the same capacity restrictions that we had last year,” Long said.
Brant Goodman, 40, from Santa Fe, was teaching his daughter Sierra to ski. “First time,” he said of his 2-year-old. His wife, Rachel, and older daughter Sage were with him.
He said they were taking it slow with Sierra, opening her up to snow culture. “Hot chocolate and M&Ms — and hopefully no tears,” he said.
Serena Ramon , 22, was visiting from New Braunfels, Texas , learning to snowboard. “I fall on my butt every time,” she said. “I’ve been watching plenty of YouTube videos, so I thought I was gonna get the hang of it. But yeah, it’s not the case. Way harder.”
Sierra McBride , 23, of Albuquerque, was getting on a snowboard for the first time. “I skied before but first time snowboarding,” said McBride, who said she has been on a long board (a long skateboard) before.
Her boyfriend, Bradley Hinton, is a boarder, and “he so kindly is out here teaching me how to snowboard today,” she said.
Sarita Harty , 54, and her Santa Fe neighbor Laura Greenberg, 35, said they couldn’t wait to check out opening day.
“The weather has been amazing. I’ve got a little too much clothes on,” Harty said.
It was Greenberg’s first time skiing in New Mexico. “My husband and I are from North Carolina,” she said. “So the skiing there is much different. We don’t have mountains like this at all.”
Jerad Rael , 36, from Santa Fe, was using a harness to teach his daughter Livia to ski. The 10-foot-long red nylon straps attach teacher to student to allow for both autonomy and safety.
“This is her first day this season, but she’s been skiing since she was two,” Rael said. “This is us, back, after the pandemic. We had a break, but now we’re just happy to be out here celebrating the snow again.”