Winter weather doesn't cool down SnoFest

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Christopher DeWitt
  • U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs
Skis - check. Hat - check. Gloves - check. Jacket - well that might have been optional, but the beautiful conditions only made SnoFest a bigger hit for those who made the trip.

Skiing, snowboarding, races, parties you name it - they had it at the 11th annual event held at Keystone Resort and 21st overall.

SnoFest is a three-day extravaganza for military families, retirees, Department of Defense civilians and contractors, but it wasn't just for those wanting to hit the slopes.

"It's not just for skiers: we had non-skier activities throughout the day," said Jill Stevens, 10th Force Support Squadron marketing director. "Even if you've never stepped on skis before, you don't have to. You can come here, have a lot of fun and enjoy the activities - there was tons of stuff to do."

While there was a lot to do off the mountain, the action was definitely on the slopes. Ski and snowboard races pitted bases against each other in team and individual categories - all hoping to earn points for the coveted commander's cup.

Senior Airman Jeremy Coates represented Buckley Air Force Base, Colo., in the individual snowboard category and explained that he wasn't nervous while in the starting gates, but he "didn't want to let his team down."

Unfortunately, Buckley AFB came in second as Peterson AFB walked away with their third consecutive commander's cup. The Air Force Academy did make a strong showing in the team ski category, taking first, second and third, but one Academy official knows why that might have happened.

"That's because we had the USAFA Alpine Cadet Ski Team," said Brig. Gen. Dana Born, the dean of faculty. "They took a couple of us 'older folks' to get the handicap points I think."

Weather was definitely a contributing factor to the overall success of SnoFest, which was hosted by the Air Force Academy this year.

"It's a total success - a lot of people having fun and that's the whole purpose, of course the weather sure helped and good snow conditions - I don't know how it could be any better," said Lt. Gen. Mike Gould, Academy superintendent. "Especially when you look at the Air Force Academy, the 10th Air Base Wing, taking the lead to set all this up, I'm real proud of the whole team for everything they've done."

An event this large can't be put together without a lot of help, and this year that help came in the form of more than $92,000, the highest amount to date, from 24 sponsors.

"This event could not be possible without the sponsors," Ms. Stevens said. "The sponsorship made it possible to have discounted party and lift tickets, as well as free racing."

Themed parties at the end of the day gave everyone an opportunity to come together, share a meal and relax. The final "Rat Pack"-themed party included a live band, face painting, free caricatures, and a prize auction using play money won from "Vegas Style" games.

"Every participant was given the same amount of play money to start with," said Tamera McLean, SnoFest "Queen," responsible for the overall management of this year's event. "They could then play the different 'Vegas Style' games to try and increase their money so they could bid on the prizes being auctioned off."

The third and final day was dubbed "Family Day" and had no scheduled activities for the 3,100 people who attended, just more sunshine and unseasonably warm weather to wrap up the weekend. One constant throughout the weekend was everyone's overall impression of SnoFest 2011.

"Beautiful weather, fabulous people, great time with family - it's so much fun," Gen. Born said.

"Great day, beautiful sunshine, nice snow conditions, great time to be out with the family and enjoy some skiing," said Lt. Col. Keith Dastur, a regional director with the Academy Admissions Office. "It's also great to take a day off work, come out here and have some comeradery with co-workers and take advantage of everything Colorado has to offer."

Kelly Darnell, who skied in the individual competitions Saturday said, "It's awesome, I've had a blast."