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‘Run its course’

A shovel race participant slides down the mountain at Angel Fire Resort in 2019. (Courtesy of Angel Fire Resort)

The end of era is at hand.

And Albuquerque’s John Strader is none too happy about it.

Super Bowl weekend also will see the finale of Angel Fire Resort’s long-standing Shovel Races.

This year, the Feb. 2-3 race marks the 41st running of the quirky event, and resort officials say that from here on, shovels will be used for their given purpose of snow removal.

“Looking at the shovel race, it’s a unique Angel Fire event, but its waned in participation and sponsorship the last few years,” said the resort’s new marketing director, Greg Ralph. “Like anything, it has cycled through and run its course.”

But Strader, an old-school racer who’s been a participant for decades and is the speed-demon record holder at 72 mph, said the resort all but melted the snow under the shovels.

“They put it up against Super Bowl weekend,” he said.

Angel Fire, however, already is transitioning into something new, as the weekend will include its first Winter Carnival to cater to the many young families that visit the resort.

“I was trying to think of something unique, and I’ve never seen a merry-go-round at the base of a ski area,” Ralph said. “It’s something that would appeal to young families at the resort.”

It will include carnival games such as knocking over milk bottles, spinning wheels, and ring tosses, he said.

“Someday, we hope to have more with a Ferris wheel and a roller coaster – really blow up this winter carnival idea,” Ralph said. “We want it to become an attraction and a fun idea.”

Meanwhile, there is a possibility the shovel races will be revived at some point.

“It could come back in the future,” Ralph said. “But hopefully, the winter carnival evolves into becoming the same type of unique Angel Fire signature event.”

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