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Great RVer Spectator Event: the Salomon Freeride Championships!

March 17, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

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I have published many posts about the wide variety of activities there are for campers and RVers in northern New Mexico during the summer and fall months. Little did I know, in winter this area can be as entertaining as it is during warmer weather. I have written about cross country skiing at Enchanted Forest Cross Country Ski are in Red River and  hiking in winter, but this weekend, I discovered an event that brings new meaning to the word “excitement:” The Salomon Freeride Championships.

Taos Ski Valley, NM Salomon Freeride Championships, Taos Ski Valley, NMNow, you must understand, I am not really a downhill skier. I have only gone downhill skiing once, at Sipapu, a nearby resort and stuck with the bunny hill and the “Magic Carpet Ride”, the baby chairlift, the entire day. The Salomon event takes place up in the Taos Ski Valley, also known as the “Taos Steeps” as the mountain peaks resemble those in the Austrian Alps, perfect terrain for serious downhill competition. They are not for the faint of heart, intimidating even to look at. I will not be skiing them any time soon.

Billed as New Mexico’s most prestigious and biggest skiing event, the Salomon Freeride Championships was a three day event, held from February 28 through March 2nd. Promotional material stated that this “big mountain competition” will be held on Taos’ “famed steep terrain.” Events and venues included “ragged chutes and cliffs” off the West Basin and the incomparable Kachina Peak, the most intimidating peak in the Ski Valley.

The view from our lunch table at the Bavarian Lodge

The view from our lunch table at the Bavarian Lodge

This event was also a Freeride Qualifying event (FWQ), one of just a handful of elite FWQ events held around the world in which you can earn a place in serious competiton. The first two days involved competition on the West Basin Hill while day three, Saturday, held the cliff jumping events on legendary Kachina Peak. Each day of competition ended with an awards ceremony and culminated in live entertainment for skiers and spectators alike in the Martini Tree Bar at the resort. Due to the difficulty and prestige of this event, it attracted participants from all over the country and the world. Skiers from New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Washington, Alaska, California and Wyoming were joined by competitors from Chile, New Zealand and Canada.

The Bavarian Lodge

The Bavarian Lodge

Now, I write this not because I assume most of our readers will be chomping at the bit to compete in this event. As I said, it is not for the faint of heart. But as a non-downhill skier, I was excited to be able to watch some of these festivities. Day three allowed us to sit on the deck of the fabulous Bavarian Lodge Restaurant in the 50 degree temperatures and brilliant sunshine, enjoying lunch and watching skiers descend the slopes. We could not actually see the cliff jumping competition from there, but could purchase a lift pass and ride the chair lift up to observe the jumpers. Not having skis with us (or the desire, at least on my part) to descend that slope on skis, we opted to enjoy the event from the Bavarian. Nonetheless, it was a delightful and exciting way to spend a beautiful Saturday afternoon. To read more about the event, check out www.skitaos.org.

Taos Ski Valley RV ParkingWhere to stay during your visit? Whether you are a competitive downhill skier and would like to join the contest, or a downhill skier who would like to experience a bit of the “Taos Steeps” or simply a spectator like me, there are many options for accommodations. In prior posts, I have discussed the numerous RV parks in Taos and Red River, NM that remain open through the winter months. Additionally, there are many housing options in the Taos Ski Valley, some at very reasonable cost. But, for the true diehard outdoors lover and RVer, the Ski Valley Resort has a special area of their parking lot devoted to skiers who travel with their RVs; a place to stay in your home away from home right at the resort. You can get up in the morning, walk over to the nearest lift, and begin skiing. What more could a skiing or spectating RVer ask for?

Read more about New Mexico campgrounds and things to do in New Mexico.

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