Meet Kristi Vine

New director of Taos Winter Sports Team aims to get more young people interested in snow sports

By Matthew Narvaiz
sports@taosnews.com
Posted 11/7/19

Kristi Vine can never pass up on a good cup of coffee.

But on this brisk Monday afternoon (Nov. 4), Vine, the new Taos Winter Sports Team executive director, is drinking a masala chai on ice instead at the Manzanita Market, a small café tucked just behind the World Cup Café in the Taos Plaza.

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Meet Kristi Vine

New director of Taos Winter Sports Team aims to get more young people interested in snow sports

Posted

Kristi Vine can never pass up on a good cup of coffee.

But on this brisk Monday afternoon (Nov. 4), Vine, the new Taos Winter Sports Team executive director, is drinking a masala chai on ice instead at the Manzanita Market, a small café tucked just behind the World Cup Café in the Taos Plaza.

She jokes about how, earlier in the day, she had three cups of coffee and that this time she opted for a different drink "just to change it up."

Vine recounts her time in Bellingham, Washington, her hometown, and skiing with her father and three siblings at Mount Baker, a ski resort in the state -- and understanding that these moments of her life were ones that, in many ways, would shape her future endeavors.

"When I was 4 years old, we had a very serious conversation in the parking lot about how I was going to learn how to ski today, or how I was going to ski today," Vine says. "Zero options."

But make no mistake. Vine loves skiing - just as much, if not more, than a cup of coffee or her favorite snack, which is cheese. "Don't ever ask me to give it up," she says.

While Vine has had a long tenure of being around winter sports, she says when she was younger she didn't know that you could make a career out of skiing.

When she was 24 she was working part time at Steven Pass, a resort in Washington state, to ski for free because she didn't have the money to afford the pass on her own.

That opened Vine's eyes to what would be her future career. A woman she worked for at the resort recommended that she make a career out of skiing because she was good at it. Vine obliged her boss' idea and started applying to different ski resorts for a full-time position as a ski instructor.

She applied to resorts in California, Washington and Idaho, and eventually was "offered full-time teaching positions," she said.

She finally landed her first full-time gig at Alpine Meadows, a ski resort in northeastern California.

But how did Vine end up in Taos?

Back at Alpine Meadows, she met her partner Hank King, who was one of her housemates. They eventually left California - "We wanted to try someplace new," she says - and went on a three-week road trip to the Southwest. They visited seven ski resorts in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah - "23 years ago" in May.

They were in Arroyo Seco during Memorial Day weekend and someone in a small café had recommended that they go to Taos and get in touch with Max Killinger, a manager and ski instructor at Taos Ski Valley.

"He's an icon," Vine says of Killinger.

She and King were eventually offered jobs as instructors at Taos Ski Valley. And both have been here ever since.

She's helped in assisting with the ski-to-learn program for children ages 3 to 7, among other programs at the resort. The past seven years, however, she has been working at the Adult Snowsports School.

Fast forward to 2019 and Vine is now leading the way at Taos Winter Sports Team in an executive director role, where she performs administrative tasks such as registering new members and fundraising, among other duties.

Taos Winter Sports Team is a program that holds training sessions for coaches. They also assist with "competition support" in three different snow sports: big mountain, ski racing and slope style.

So with that in mind, Vine says, she not only wants to help sustain the success of the organization, but she also wants to encourage the younger generation to grow a true respect for skiing and the outdoors.

But more than anything, at Taos Winter Sports Team, she wants to "continue to expose as many children and young athletes to winter sports in the most positive process possible," she says.

Working at Taos Ski Valley, she's done that. At Taos Winter Sports Team, she says that it's the "next step" in the process.

She says that her bosses at Taos Ski Valley were "completely supportive" of her decision to take the job at Taos Winter Sports Team, and said they believed collaboration between both parties is a positive for both the ski resort and the team.

Vine will still hold a full time position at Taos Ski Valley as an instructor. It's something she loves, she says, and will continue to do in the future.

Vine is now also full time at Taos Winter Sports Team, and has been since Sept. 1 of this year.

She says that in her new position she is still learning how to do all the administrative tasks. But the support of her coworkers has been helpful in the process. However, it's her love for the outdoors and Taos that is so strongly tied to her new leadership role.

She's a lifelong "snow-sports enthusiast" and admits that term is worn out in the community she's so heavily involved in. But she's also a teacher of skiing - and no matter the position, her goal has remained the same.

"From the time I was a child, I couldn't wait to get on skis because my brothers and sisters did it. I couldn't wait to do that family activity," she says.

"And when I started teaching and exposing other people to the sport, I haven't wanted to do anything else."

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