Last week, I had the pleasure of guiding a group of 18 members of the North American Snowsports Journalists Association trip to three Northern New Mexico ski areas, in the first visit by the organization to the state in the past 25 years.
It was interesting to see what most impressed them, and fun getting to know them all a bit better, having just joined the group last winter.
These are the voices that help shape our perception of American recreational skiing, ski racing and other aspects of the North American sliding sports scene. They have covered everything from the Winter Olympics to the induction ceremonies to the U.S. Ski Hall of Fame and countless other events.
They’ve written thousands of profiles of leading figures in the field, from Olympian Jean-Claude Killy to ballet skier Suzy “Chapstick” Chaffee and mogul master Jonny Moseley, as well as industry titans and the unknown figures prepping race courses.
They’ve written about almost every ski area on earth, from tiny hills in the Berkshires and Poconos to the Alps.
With the loss of most newspaper travel sections and general reduction of print media outlets, many members produce blogs, contribute to websites and push “content” on social media platforms. All week there were a blizzard of images and short reports being disseminated about the visit, with longer stories to follow.
We began the visit at Ski Santa Fe, where the day started in sun and ended in a dark fog, yet people raved about the morning light, the soft snow and the excellent variety of terrain.
Next, we headed north to Taos Ski Valley, which was a real surprise to first-timers. People were blown away by its steeps and pleased with the surprise 4-6 inches of powder deposited the night before.
Used to fighting crowds in the Sierras, Colorado or Eastern ski areas, they were delighted to ski right onto the chairlifts and have runs all to themselves. We enjoyed a delicious lunch on the sun-filled Bavarian deck under the towering slopes of Kachina Peak.
Our last day was at Angel Fire Resort, where we found powder a week after the last storm, while others enjoyed “ripping the roy” — as in corduroy, which Curtis Fong so aptly tagged it — on AFR’s abundant cruising runs.
Fong, a NASJA member since 1980, is one of the group’s veterans. A former radio and television broadcaster, he writes travel blogs on skiing and biking, and he produces major cycling events in the Lake Tahoe area, including Americas Most Beautiful Bike Ride, the Tour de Tahoe and OATBRAN.
Another veteran is Bob Cox, a NASJA member since 1978 and two-term president (2007-11). Besides covering numerous Super Bowls as a sports writer, he was a weekly ski columnist for the Daily Breeze and the Mammoth Times in California, plus is the only seven-time winner of the group’s Harold Hirsch Award.
Two new members making the New Mexico excursion, Jaime Pirozzi and Alex Silgalis of the Tahoe area, contrasted them. Creators of the excellent site localfreshies.com, they are in charge of social media accounts for dozens of clients, including a handful of Sierra Nevada range tourism bureaus, feeding content through a variety of platforms.
They particularly like adventure stories and spent considerable time and effort atop TSV’s famed West Basin Ridge and hiking at AFR shooting stills and video.
Among the East Coast media were Martin Griff and Peter Hines. Griff — a high-energy, always-smiling skier from New Jersey — contributes to FirstTracksOnline.com, BraveSkiMom.com and other outlets. Hines, of Latham, N.Y., is lead developer for the NASJA.org website plus a freelance snowsports photographer and writer.
There was also a strong contingent from Oregon and Washington, including Lee Juillerat, Larry Turner, Ed Kane and Risa Wyatt. Juillerat is regional editor/outdoor writer for the Herald and News of Klamath Falls, Ore., and co-owner with Turner of highonadventure.com. Turner, a remarkable photographer, had work published in National Geographic Traveler, Travel and Leisure and Atlantic Monthly, among other publications, and was the subject of a PBS special Shooting the West.
Kane, of Bellevue, Wash., has been a ski instructor for more than 50 years and a member of the PSIA-NW board for 47 years, writing mostly about ski technique and teaching. Wyatt, of Seattle, specializes in covering the food, wine and lifestyle aspects of skiing for publications and websites worldwide.
I could go on, but space precludes noting all the accomplished participants. It was an honor to hang with these chroniclers of snowsports, and I hope to join them next winter on another excursion somewhere.
A modest storm turned into a marathon Tuesday, leaving 15 inches at Ski Santa Fe, 18 at Taos Ski Valley and decent amounts across the region.
Ski Santa Fe has a fine 80-inch base with all runs open, except Big Rocks Chutes 1 and 5, and Sunset Bowl. It has been blessed with 145 inches of fluff this season to date.
Taos Ski Valley has a 71-inch base. Many runs off Highline Ridge, and some below, were closed after the storm but most everything should be open for the weekend.
Angel Fire picked up 7 inches and has a 43-inch base. Red River received 17 inches and has a 37-inch base. Sandia Peak was delivered 8 inches and has a rare 45-inch base. Ski Apache near Ruidoso has a 38-inch base, Sipapu has 31 inches and Pajarito Mountain has 31 inches. Enchanted Forest Cross Country Ski Area has a 40-inch base on its trails.
Wolf Creek has a 73-inch base and all runs open. It has received 250 inches this season so far. Crested Butte has a 42-inch base, with almost every run open, including its High Lift and North Lift terrain. Telluride reports 44 inches, Monarch Mountain has 52 inches, with everything open. Purgatory has 49 inches and 100 of 105 runs open.
Arizona Snowbowl has 52 inches, with 39 of 48 lift-served runs open. None of its hike-to double black area, the Upper Bowl, is skiable.