Fostering love of the mountain among the next generation

Skiing and riding have changed immensely over the last several decades. From technique and competition to gear and terrain, mountain sports have and must continue to advance to remain relevant. The ongoing progress of the sport is due in large part to the new ideas, enthusiasm and energy of the next generation of athletes. We consider it our responsibility to help attract and encourage these young skiers and riders to fall in love with mountain sports.

We are also committed to pursuing business practices that promote a more resilient and robust community. For us, that means that we must maintain Taos Ski Valley as a successful economic driver. Engaging younger athletes and embracing their preferences and expectations for sport and travel experiences will help advance this goal. Establishing Taos Ski Valley as a must-visit destination for younger mountain lovers from our region and beyond is critical to the ongoing economic vitality of our state.

As such, we have made engaging the next generation of skiers and riders a top priority at Taos Ski Valley through a number of efforts:

• State-of-the-art Children's Center - last year we invested in a state-of-the-art Children's Center with new lifts and completely recontoured beginner terrain to develop an industry-leading "Perfect Progression" program.

• Public School Program - for decades, we have partnered with public schools in New Mexico to bring students who would otherwise not be able to afford or access a ski day to the mountain for a lesson, including gear rentals. This season alone, we have registered close to 1,000 students, including those from schools as far as Pojoaque and Las Vegas.

• Shredders Program - our multiday shredders lessons are an opportunity for children ages 3-13 to greatly expand their skills with the same instructor for up to eight days.

• All-inclusive Ski Program - we partnered with Taos Winter Sports Team and a very special group of adaptive ski instructors to develop an all-inclusive ski program for Taos students of any ability level, including those with cognitive and physical challenges.

• Teen Ski Week - during school holiday periods, we have a program designed specifically for teenagers to ski and ride together.

• Zia Pass - two seasons ago we introduced a discounted season pass for visitors ages 18-35, knowing that this is a very important demographic for the growth of the sport. The Zia Pass is now our numbe one selling pass.

• Support for Taos Winter Sports Team - finally, we are proud financial supporters of the Taos Winter Sports Team, which promotes the development of good sportsmanship, healthy competitiveness, sound technical skills, and an appreciation for the spirit of skiing and the mountains.

More so than generations before them, Millennials and Generation Z are more apt to show loyalty to businesses that stand for more than just the bottom line. And that's important to us, too. We're proud to be part of a growing global movement of people using business as a force for good. In 2017, Taos Ski Valley became the first ski resort in the world to become a certified B-Corporation. Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency and accountability to balance profit and purpose. Younger visitors that choose Taos Ski Valley do so with the knowledge that they're supporting our sound ethics.

If you're a young person who has been wanting to try skiing or riding, or you have children who haven't yet been introduced to the sports, we invite you to give it a try in Taos Ski Valley. We think we have something really special to offer.

David Norden is CEO of Taos Ski Valley.

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