Linton Judycki grew up carving and making turns all over the Red River Ski Area terrain of greens, blues and blacks. Always at his father's side (Drew, who died in 2008), he learned to ski -- and he learned the family business of owning and operating a ski hill.
Judycki started competing at the age of 4. A big highlight of his racing career was placing second in the Junior Olympics at age 13. He went abroad to continue his skiing, and while in Europe, he learned more about the ski industry. All of this combined experience has helped get him to where he is today.
In August 2018, Judycki was named general manager of the Red River Ski & Summer Area.
With the recent sales of Taos Ski Valley and Sipapu Ski & Summer Resort -- moving out of family hands and into corporate ownership -- Judycki is highly aware that Red River is one of the last, few remaining family-owned and -operated ski slopes in the country and quite possibly, the world. Which is why he operates the ski area with an emphasis on family.
"It's special to keep the family tradition living on [as a business]. We are a big family, all of us. That's how we treat each other and our guests," said Judycki, who has a young, growing family of his own. His son, Atlas, is 9 months old.
The ski area has 200-plus employees with some who have worked there for more than 40 years. Some employees are made up of multiple members of the same families who have been working there for generations.
Judycki is also plugged into the changes going on around him in Taos County. About the new charter service, Taos Air, he said, "I've heard that a few people have used it to come over here to Red River. We are excited about it."
As general manager, Judycki is managing every bit of the business, making sure operations run smoothly and that the business continues to grow.
"We continue to improve our snowmaking every year. From replacing old pipe in the ground to new guns and more permanent guns, we have the best snowmaking system in the Southwest. Every year we constantly put a focus toward that," said Judycki.
As the town of Red River grew in the 1950s with new lodges, an Oklahoma businessman opened the Red River Ski Area in 1959, using surplus steel from oil derricks for lift towers.
To mark this 60-year milestone, the ski area is celebrating this weekend with an invitation-only gala of night skiing, fireworks and "throwback ski gear" as the suggested dress code. The marketing team has also unveiled a new retro-style RRSA-60 logo.
Judycki is a big advocate of all winter sports and the Red River Ski Area remains committed to the next generation. For example, they have expanded their ski school programs for all ages.
"Parents are seeing that their kids are skiing really well and that our coaches are very good," said Linda Jones, special events manager.
And on February 1-2, the University of New Mexico Ski Team will hold its Invitational Home Meet at Red River, as they have done for years. This is notable as the UNM Board of Regents voted to discontinue its skiing programs in July 2018 -- prompting state Representative Roberto "Bobby" J. Gonzales (District 42, Taos) to write an op-ed to The Taos News, titled "Save the UNM Ski Team."
"This could be the last year. But we funded them through this season, through fundraising efforts and private entities," said Reed Weimer, social media and events coordinator.
Located within reasonable driving distance of Texas and Oklahoma, Red River Ski & Summer Area has a fair share of visitors. But its place as a family-owned business is strong in the heart of New Mexicans, attracting many locals as well.