Skiesta likely to cap season at Pajarito, see attached schedule

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Skiing: Despite warm temps, event to include number of races

By Mike Cote

It’s one of the biggest events of the ski season at Pajarito Mountain and this year it looks to be the last event of any kind there.
Skiesta, the big blowout party celebrating the final days of the ski season, is scheduled for Saturday at Pajarito. But with spring quickly setting in and temperatures rising, Pajarito’s 2011-12 season is drawing to a close.
It was a strange year for Pajarito. Despite good snowfall this winter — considerably more than many long-range forecasts were predicting — and coming off the heels of a rough 2010-11 season, the type of crowds the ski area was hoping to see seemed never to arrive.
Ski area manager Tom Long said crowds were solid throughout the Christmas break, an important time for resorts in Northern New Mexico, but quickly dwindled throughout January and February.
But Long said ski club members usually turn out in good numbers for Skiesta, an event that dates back at least to the 1950s.
“The mood around the ski hill is very supportive,” he said. “This is such a long-standing event. Last year, we had to do it without the ski areas being open, but there were a lot of people. The club really gets behind it.”
Events will go on all day Saturday, starting with the Pinhead Challenge cross-country race. That race will get going approximately 8:30 a.m. Normal operation will begin at 9 a.m.
Also scheduled for Saturday are two slalom races — one of them dubbed the “sloppy slalom,” jumping at the terrain park and a costume contest.
The band Porter Draw will perform and Santa Fe Brewing Company and other local microbrews will be on hand, among other activities.
As of this morning, the ski area is reporting a 36-inch mid-mountain base. It is anticipating 34 trails to be open this weekend.
This ski season, Pajarito will have been in operation for 56 days, nearly quadruple the total of 2010-11. Pajarito was open all last week for its Texas Spring Break event.
But the full weekly use combined with quickly climbing temperatures — Los Alamos was close to record temperatures midway through last week and is supposed to get close to the 70-degree mark by week’s end — will most likely make this the final week of operation at the ski hill.
“We’re dying slowly,” Long said. “That song you hear, that’s the fat lady singing.”

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