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Chills & Thrills: Angel Fire hosts Winter Carnival and annual shovel races

An Angel Fire shovel race participant from 2019 loses the shovel while competing. (Courtesy of Angel Fire Resort)

Angel Fire Resort is taking carnivals to a higher level.

The resort is hosting its Winter Carnival on the mountain Thursday, Jan. 30, through Sunday, Feb. 2. It will feature a vibrant and colorful carousel for eventgoers to ride, as well as a number of carnival games with prizes along the midway. Attendees also will get to show off their ax-throwing skills in one of the activities. Popcorn, snow cones and cotton candy will add to the carnival experience.

“It was actually the idea of our new director of marketing, Greg Ralph,” said Krysty Ronchetti, Angel Fire’s public relations coordinator. “It was his brainchild. And it gives us some kind of challenge to do stuff that meets the needs of the wider audience that I would say safely are 80 percent families or probably higher than that. At least 80 percent of our guests are families, so we’re trying to find more events that tailor to all ages.”

The carnival is only part of the activities that can be enjoyed over the weekend. The annual shovel race will have its final runs on Friday, Jan. 31, and Saturday, Feb. 1. Racers of all ages will hop onto snow shovels and slide down a snowy slope to the finish line.

“Basically, the event itself has fizzled out,” Ronchetti said. “It doesn’t have as much interest as it once did. It’s become a niche event. We wanted to use our event resources toward a wider sample of our guests. We kind of did some brainstorming, and then from there we did the expansion with the carnival.”

Angel Fire Resort is giving skiers and snowboarders time to observe or participate in the shovel races and enjoy the carnival before hitting the slopes. The resort will offer night skiing from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31, and Saturday, Feb. 1, Feb. 21 and 22, and Feb. 28 and 29. It will go an hour longer, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Feb. 14 through Feb. 16. The cost is $25, or if you already have a day ticket it’s an additional $15.

“Basically, we close the mountain for a little bit (from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.), and then the mountain crew goes and goes in to sweep and courtesy groom, so kind of clean up the mountain a little bit,” Ronchetti said. “Night skiing is approximately 50 acres of groomed trails.”

Night skiing is popular at the resort, and the slopes are less crowded than during the day.

“It’s not super-crowded, so that’s kind of nice, too, and it’s well lit,” Ronchetti said. “We have a ton of lights. Its super-lit up. It sounds kind of crazy, but it’s really bright. It’s almost as lit up as it is during the day, so skiers can see just fine. No worries there.”

Guests who like live music can head to the Village Haus for a performance by the Jimmy Stadler Band from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1. “We’re trying to offer as much free entertainment (as we can) that weekend,” Ronchetti said.

“You can watch the shovel races for free. The carnival is free. You can play all the games for free. It will be a really fun family (time) to come check out the mountain, and it’s a different experience, too, especially if you’re not a skier. You can still enjoy the mountain, and the weather is beautiful up there right now. And if you’re not a skier, it’s something else for you to do, and if you are a skier, you can hop off your skis and go on the merry-go-round.”

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