Top Taos instructors fill your head and motivate your heart with the passion for snow sport Sunday through Friday. After six days under their tutelage, practicing your new moves on Taos' varied terrain, you can't help but head home a better skier. But it's not all about the two-hour on-snow sessions. It's the support and camaraderie with your fellow ski buffs and your instructor. The afternoon tech talks on biomechanics and the evolution of skiing, hikes to the Ridge (if you're an advanced skier), and the celebratory martinis tipped in the woods.
Yes, the legendary Pouron at the Martini Tree still exists. On the last day of class, your instructor will escort you into the woods to a lockbox protecting a blown glass goblet filled with martinis. There, you will toast to an incredible week of friends, fun, and ski improvement. This tradition isn't quite the same as it was when it first began, but no one's complaining.
The legend goes that, in1959, a student of Ernie Blake's (Taos founder) refused to move. The flat light on the Snakedance Trail scared her stiff. Ernie sent his son Mickey "down to Mommy" to get a batch of martinis. When the boy came back, Ernie handed his student the pouron and told her, "You will drink or you will die here." One sip and she skied like a goddess.
"It's a true story," said Adriana Blake, Ernie's granddaughter. "I met the woman herself years later." Back then, instructors would hide the pouron somewhere on the mountain and would taste from it daily. Now, it's a weekly, more civilized, thing - strictly for ski school guests.
Fortunately, you don't have to be a Ski Week student to sit in on one of the Tuesday night tech talks in the Ratskeller Bar at the Hotel St. Bernard. The après event begins at 4:30 p.m. with old school videos of the way skiing was both in general and in Taos history. One of Taos' long-time instructors will guide you through footage from 1939 to the present, pointing out ski techniques used when we had no side cut to our skis, to the super shaped skis, to our big fatties of the 21st century. "We didn't get smarter," our technician tells us. "We just got new tools." He demonstrates the 'then' and how it relates to 'now' to the audience.
Parents staying at the St. Bernard won't have to worry about boring the kids. Each evening as part of the Hotel's weekly dinner package, children ages 3-12 (or older, if they prefer) participate in the St. Bernard Kids Club.
Starting Sunday evening at 5:30 p.m. and each night for the rest of the week, your kids will meet Janet Shipley, the Kids Club director, in the dining room for a kid-friendly dinner with entrees such as steak, chicken, or pizza. The kids then head upstairs to Kids Club Headquarters for their evening activities such as trash bag sledding, movies, or roasting marshmallows over a flaming fire. They're back to you when you're done with your own dinner.