Annual ski swap benefits Sandia Peak Ski Patrol

[anvplayer video=”5143454″ station=”998122″]

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Ski season is just around the corner in New Mexico, and the Sandia Peak Ski Patrol is making it easier to gear up before you hit the slopes.

“This really is one-stop shopping to get your ski season off to a great start,” said Larry Zentner, a ski patrol member.

The patrol’s annual “Ski Swap” is happening Saturday and Sunday at Expo New Mexico. Thousands of pieces of skiing and snowboarding equipment will be on sale inside the Manuel Lujan building.

Officials say most of the inventory is brand new, but there are several pieces of used equipment also on sale. Reps say most of the items are being sold at a considerable discount.

“If you’re looking for a bargain, this is the one and only place to get that deal,” Zentner said.

He estimates there are at least a thousand pairs of skis, a thousand pairs of boots, and a thousand snowboards on sale this year. There are also hundreds of pairs of gloves, helmets, ski pants, and other accessories to purchase. Volunteers say the annual swap is a great opportunity for people to invest in their own set of gear before the ski season begins.

“I just saw a pair of skis over there that are about five years old and in amazing condition that retail new for about $600, and they’re being sold for $75,” said Rikki Seguin, a ski patrol member.

Reps say most of the proceeds will go back to the vendors and individuals selling equipment, but a small portion will be set aside to keep the ski patrol running.

“We are 100% dependent upon the sales income to maintain our ski patrol, our curriculum, our training, and the resources that we use to make your ski hill safe,” Zentner said.

The Ski Patrol has been operating for nearly 75 years. The group is made up entirely of volunteers and operates like first responders at ski areas.

“We’re looking out for ways to help people who might need it,” Seguin said. “Whether that’s because of an injury, because of the cold because of their fear, whatever it might be. We do what we can to get people down the mountain safely.”

Seguin has been a member of the Sandia Peak Ski Patrol for nearly 3 years. She says she’s responded to some very intense situations.

“I’ve definitely seen some injuries that you have to take a minute and really take a breath and gather yourself,” she said.

Of course – there won’t be many people to rescue without snow on the mountains. The National Weather Service predicts La Nina conditions will lead to another dry winter in New Mexico. Both Seguin and Zentner say they’ve heard those predictions before – and they don’t always come true.

“From my experience, I have learned that we will be surprised at the amount of snowfall that all of our ski areas are going to enjoy,” Zentner said.

“Last season, people also told me that we weren’t going to have a lot of snow,” Seguin said. “I skied more days last season than any year in recent memory. So the snow’s coming.”

Reps with Ski New Mexico say they aren’t worried about dry conditions either. On Thursday, executive director George Brooks championed snow-making technology on the mountains.

“Our ski areas for a long, long time have prepared and have been making snow; we are very good at it; regardless of how much natural snow we get,” Brooks said.

Sipapu Ski Area is expected to kick off the ski season on November 28th. A few ski areas are still deciding when – or if – they will open for the season. Earlier this year, Sandia Peak Ski Area leaders announced they will not open for the season because of worker shortages and weak snow predictions.

The Ski Swap opens at 9:00 AM tomorrow morning, and volunteers are recommending folks get there early if they’re looking to snag the best deals.

“Typically, when the doors open, there’s a line, and there’s a rush of people coming into the building,” Seguin said.

The sale continues on Sunday, but volunteers say it’s hard to guess how much equipment will be left to buy.

For more information, click here.