For a single day earlier this month there was a glimpse of the future at Taos Ski Valley, as the slopes were “free” and skiers and snowboarders played happily together in the slush. The occasion was Employee day, the one day of the season when Taos Ski Valley management allows boards on its slopes. Although the day was restricted to staff, plenty showed up ready to ride and aided by Heelside and Arbor who set up demo tents just a few feet from the main lift.
Most of the available boards were in use all day, with employees eager to ride the usually forbidden slopes. Unsurprisingly many Taos employees turned out to be excellent snowboarders who took full advantage of the limited terrain that was open. Just as many were beginners but almost all came in worked, but safe and totally pumped.
“It was cool to see snowboards and skiers sharing the slopes of Taos,” says Matthew Kreitman, spokesman for the Free The Snow campaign (and contributing editor for TW Snowboarding Business) who organized the demo. “After a couple of hours it seemed totally normal, just as it will be the morning the ban is finally lifted.” Arbor President Bob Carlson added that he appreciated the chance to give Taos management a glimpse of how easy it would be to have skiers and snowboarders together on the mountain.”Our involvement with the demo helps us lay a little groundwork for the day when snowboarders are allowed to ride at Taos,” said Carlson. “It allowed us to reach out to, and support a core group of underground riders, while helping to generate more awareness for the Free Taos movement.”Despite expressing enthusiasm for the snowboard demo, including personally inviting the demo tents to set up on Taos Ski Valley property instead of the planned adjacent space, TSV General Manager Gordon Briner’s indicated snowboarders shouldn’t get their hopes up the ban will be lifted anytime soon.
However Matthew Kreitman pointed out the forces for change aligned against the snowboard ban have never been stronger.
“TSV was down 20 percent this season while nearby Angel Fire, which has embraced snowboarding, had a close-to-record season, despite the poor snow,” he says. “It’s increasingly evident the snowboard ban is anti-family and destroys family business. Almost every business in Taos Ski Valley and most businesses in the town of Taos have now publicly stated their opposition to the ban. One indication is Chris Stagg, marketing director of Taos Ski Valley and former mayor of what is effectively a company town, got thumped in the recent election by an anti-ban business owner.”