Academy, military families hit the slopes at SnoFest

Col. David Gibson and Grant Sparkman slide down the cardboard derby race course Jan. 25 during the 24th annual SnoFest. The team from the Academy Dean of Faculty's computer science department took first place in the group category for fastest snow craft. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Patrice Clarke)

Lt. Col. David Gibson and Lt. Col. Clint Sparkman slide down the cardboard derby race course Jan. 25 during the 24th annual SnoFest. The team from the Academy Dean of Faculty's computer science department took first place in the group category for fastest snow craft. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Patrice Clarke)

Patrick Young, 10th Force Support Squadron, prepares to shred down the snowboard course during the snowboard races at SnoFest Jan. 25. SnoFest participants had the opportunity to participate in ski, snowboard and cardboard derby races among other activities over the weekend. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Patrice Clarke)

Patrick Young, 10th Force Support Squadron, prepares to shred down the snowboard course during the snowboard races at SnoFest Jan. 25. SnoFest participants had the opportunity to participate in ski, snowboard and cardboard derby races among other activities over the weekend. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Patrice Clarke)

Participants in the individual category of the cardboard derby race down the course during SnoFEst at Keystone, Jan. 25. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Patrice Clarke)

Participants in the individual category of the cardboard derby race down the course during SnoFEst at Keystone, Jan. 25. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Patrice Clarke)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Academy personnel and military members from five bases traveled to Keystone Resort Jan. 24 - 26 for a weekend of winter sports, camaraderie and a chance to unwind.

The annual event hosted by Colorado front range military bases and installations provided participants with skiing and snowboarding, along with lodging, parties, giveaways, races, a cardboard derby, tubing, ice-skating and more, all at heavily discounted prices for the military community.

"[SnoFest] is a chance for everyone to come out and enjoy the beauty of Colorado," said Col. John Shaw, 21st Space Wing commander and host for this year's event. "Everyone has been working hard all year long and this event is an opportunity for people to bring their family out and enjoy the exciting things that winter offers here."

Patrick Young, from the 10th Force Support Squadron, said he enjoyed the various activities the mountain resort had to offer.

"It was a lot of fun, we did jumps at the terrain park, moguls, boxes, rails and even did some races," he said. "This was a great way to be out with the military community, have some friendly competition and just have a great day."

Young warned newcomers to the mountain to take lessons if SnoFest is the first time on a snowboard or skis.

"They are inexpensive and they make the day so much more fun," he said.

In addition to skiing and snowboarding, SnoFest offered participants the opportunity to snow shoe, ice skate, snow tube, attend parties and beverage tastings throughout the weekend.

Members of the USAFA Computer Science department competed in the cardboard derby and ultimately won the group category.

"We went for a three-level biplane first then decided to go with just a regular airplane," said Lt. Col. Clint Sparkman, of the Dean of Faculty.

Col. David Gibson, also of the Dean of Faculty, said he couldn't have asked for more perfect weather to cap off the weekend.

"I've been coming to SnoFest for many years," he said. "It was great to be out here with all of the military families."

SnoFest ended with the Comic-Palooza party, which encouraged participants to come dressed as their favorite comic book characters. At the party, Shaw gave thanks to all of the organizers, committee members and volunteers who made this year's SnoFest a success. He also gave a special thanks to the wounded warriors in attendance.

"We have the privilege to be in the presence of real super heroes tonight," he said. "For those who didn't come out this year, I think you missed out on a great event. We had great weather, races, skiing, tubing, everything. It's a great time and I hope they join us next year."

For more information regarding SnoFest, visit www.mysnofest.com.