Share, Inspire and Create

The Ernie Blake Snowsports School Experience

If you've ever thought about signing up for a ski or snowboard lesson you've taken the first step towards one of the most exciting, life-changing experiences you'll ever decide to embrace. Once you’ve made that call, you're on course to bringing your shredding skills to a whole new level and accomplishing what you've always wanted to on the mountain!

Taos Ski Valley and the Ernie Blake Snowsports School have a rich history rooted in the passion for skiing.  When the resort was founded it was built around the European concept of providing a complete experience - guests could stay for a week and become part of the community. Many were learning how to ski for the first time while others would learn new skills and improve upon their abilities. When speaking about the ski school several years ago Ernie Blake said, "The guests staying at the valley have a total package which includes their room, and their meals either French or Austrian cuisine, six days of lifts and six mornings of instructions in very small, very efficient, very tough classes, but the classes are very punctual, they work very hard and the instructors take great pride in teaching their students skiing way beyond what they would learn in an ordinary ski school and we have probably the largest percentage of advanced classes in any ski school in the world." He continued to describe the experience as being "all very old fashioned in some ways, we go by standards which the world has long forgotten, but that's part of my being a very old man." A wise man
 indeed, Ernie understood the joy of interacting with each guest, getting to know them and understanding their abilities and needs so they would have a genuinely happy experience. This attitude was reflected in the instructors and their passion to help their students make leaps and bounds on the snow and continues to this day with about 250 instructors on staff, many who have come from across the country and various parts of the world to be a part of Taos Ski Valley.

Much has changed and progressed over the years; one thing that hasn't changed is our ski instructors' passion for what they do - share their energy and mountain experiences, inspire students about the ski life and mountain living and create wonderful memories you will never forget and want to revisit. Reaching the mountains to create these memories is easy now, thanks to the free RTD shuttle from town and brand new flight options provided by Taos Air you can conveniently make your way to Taos Ski Valley for a day, a weekend, or the whole season. For specific information about planning your trip, please send us a message and we'll be happy to help! Another thing that's improved recently is the gear you can use - the clunky, heavy boots and straight skis available in the 70's and 80's have evolved to comfortable, technologically-advanced equipment that enhances the process of learning to glide across the snow. After all, your lesson is supposed to be fun and your accomplishments rewarding!

Many lesson options are available for skiers and riders of just about any age and every ability level, whether you're a seasoned extreme skier looking for suggestions and tips to fine-tune your technique, or if you've never been on the snow and have always been attracted to the allure of the mountains. For the young ones in your family, ski lessons begin at age 3 and the newly renovated Children's Center offers half or full-day activities tailored to the unique needs of your infant or toddler. And hour-long mini lessons are the perfect way to introduce your child to snow and skis for the first time with a dedicated teacher and small group of up to four students. For the older children starting out on the slopes, a new teaching technique has been developed called Terrain Based Learning - this method of teaching young shredders utilizes purpose-built snow features that naturally guide a young student to efficiently develop essential skills. As they advance through five distinct learning areas on gradually increasing slopes, this fun and exciting progression teaches them how to go, and use the features to control their skis and boards so they can gain confidence quickly with ease. We have to admit though, once your child has started to learn the TBL style they may become hooked on skiing and never want to stop!

Skiing and snowboarding are indeed addictive, once you experience the enjoyment these sports bring there's no turning back. Maybe you'll feel the endless desire to be on the mountain, as riding the lift with your best friends and breathing the crisp air on a bluebird day after a snowstorm becomes a way of life. For some of the veteran instructors at Taos it's a lifestyle that compliments their profession. Alain Veth and his wife Peggy have owned Le Ski Mastery for 29 years. Known for their selection of state-of-the-art rental skis and some of the best ski techs around (their ski tunes have been called "the best in the West" for years). Alain, who has also been teaching expert-level classes at Taos for the better part of three decades, sums up the goal of many longtime instructors; "When your body, your mind, and your well-tuned equipment become ONE you can then blend each turn on the mountain with grace and harmony. It becomes so effortless that you never want the slope to end ... that's what we aim for ... it's exalting, it's pure!"

Every instructor at Taos wants to see their students experience the grace and harmony Alain describes. Each understands that we all start somewhere, and it's never too late to learn. A couple weeks ago we were about to load Lift 1 on a sunny Tuesday afternoon and were joined by a gentleman named Robert. He's been skiing at Taos for about 25 years, and also took up snowboarding 7 years ago. He's 73 years old, and was very enthusiastic to share some of his stories. What intrigued us was that Robert was from Denver and has always been close to the mountains. He and his wife Maryanne were avid hikers but had never learned to ski until deciding to take a trip to New Mexico with their son who skied and was on break from college in Gunnison; he convinced his folks to give it a try. Robert said they chose to come to Taos instead of one of their local mountains just to go somewhere different. Skeptical at first, he'd never thought it would be possible to start skiing in his 40's, and when they drove up to the Ski Valley and saw the steep slopes above, they stared at the mountain with awe for a minute and thought there was no way they'd ever make it down. Nevertheless, they made their way to the base of the lift and inquired about lessons. They signed up for a full day session the next day; their son planned to ski on the mountain and they'd meet up for lunch. After the first half day with a "rather strong-voiced and energetic" instructor who was a few years their senior, they were comfortable moving around on skis and had learned to traverse the slope. By the end of the day they were riding the Strawberry Hill lift and linking turns! Their confidence was strong and they returned home with the desire to continue skiing. After returning to Taos to ski several times over the next decade and a half, they retired from their jobs as high school teachers and moved to Santa Fe, and now ski here several times a year. Robert says they love New Mexico and the life they've built here and attributes much of that to the encouragement provided by their instructor the first time they clicked into their skis.

Today the ski school experience is easily accessible for anyone who wants to give it a try or take their skiing and riding to the next level. The adult ski school is conveniently located slope side in the Snakedance right across the walkway from Taos Sports. A few steps away, the new Gondolita not only provides a quick ride from the Edelweiss Lodge & Spa to the Children's Center and back; it's a great introduction for students learning how to use the lifts and learn some things while watching skiers on the slopes below. And don't forget the freshly made donuts at Mucho Gusto located next to Mogul Medical, a tasty treat new to our mountain this year!

All considered, the ski school experience at Taos is one of the most unique around, so if you're thinking about learning to ski with us, go for it! You'll have a great time, learn a lot, and it just might change your life in ways you've only ever dreamed about.