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Alpine Sports celebrates 50 years in Santa Fe this weekend, but it feels like only yesterday to owners Harvey and Reserl Chalker. Aside from being successful entrepreneurs, both are still active skiers, stating that they have been having way to too much fun to notice the time flying by.
Alpine Sports opened in October, 1963 as a small shop at the Santa Fe Ski Area. As both ski area employees and avid skiers, the couple quickly recognized a need for a local specialty store. They opened with a limited inventory and small selections of apparel. At the time, Reserl shared that the availability of this type of equipment and apparel was pretty limited in itself. She said that ski pants came in two colors, blue and gray and there were few brands to choose from.
After only a few years in business, the shop quickly expanded and relocated to Marcy Street in the space now occupied by LaBoca restaurant. They soon outgrew that space as well, finally settling into their current location off of Sandoval Street in 1971. The grand opening became a true family experience when their daughter Amaya was born on the very day of the celebration.
Skiing has been a constant theme in the couple’s lives. The two even met while skiing at a mountain in Gramich, Germany. Harvey moved to New Mexico to work for the Santa Fe Ski Area in the winter of 1956. He said that he returned to Oregon after the season was over in Santa Fe, where it rained for the duration of his stay. Tired of the gloomy weather, he called the manager at the Santa Fe Ski Area and asked if there was any summer work for him there and he’s been in Santa Fe ever since. Harvey later went on to become the manager of the ski area himself.
A year and a half after Harvey moved to Santa Fe, Reserl came to New Mexico to work as an instructor at the ski hill and to test the waters. She was considering a permanent move but had never visited New Mexico before. As a true testament to her love for New Mexico, she was here only a short time when she decided to stay and begin her life in Santa Fe with Harvey. Just eight weeks after her arrival to New Mexico and the United States, she and Harvey married.
As part of her job at the Santa Fe Ski Area, Reserl also taught ski lessons at the Sawyer Hill in Los Alamos during the winter of 1958. She helped local ski school director, Tony Perry, haul ski equipment for rent, from the Santa Fe Ski Area to Los Alamos, in an old WWII ambulance. She recounts the struggle of using the old toe tow to get up the ski hill, even referring to the contraption as a “nightmare;” but has favorable memories of the ski area and the enthusiastic Los Alamos families who visited the hill each weekend.
The Chalkers were individually inducted into the New Mexico Skiers Hall of Fame in 2007 and Alpine Sports has received numerous honors including Gold Medal Ski Shop of the Year by Ski Magazine and Rocky Mountain Shop of the Year. They continue to actively ski on mountains in Europe, Canada and the United States.
Over the years, the Chalkers have watched the sport and the industry grow in popularity as their store has grown, as well. The shop is still family owned and operated with their daughter Amaya regularly assisting in store operations.
Help them celebrate their 50th anniversary in business this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. They will be offering discounts up to 40 percent off and representatives will also be in attendance from companies such as Volkl, K2 and Salamon. They are located at 121 Sandoval, Santa Fe. Visit them on the web at alpinesports-santafe.com.
-April M. Brown