Pajarito Mountain ski patroller Eric Schaller with his dog, Gnar, during the off-season. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
Eric Schaller of Pajarito Mountain Ski Patrol. Courtesy photo
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Pajarito Mountain Ski Patroller Eric Schaller is the winner of the Best of the Best award in the Ski Patrol category from Ski New Mexico for the 2018-2019 ski season. He will be honored at the annual Ski New Mexico Hall of Fame dinner in Albuquerque in October.
Toni and Ilse Woerndle of Red River were selected to be inducted into the 2019 Ski New Mexico Hall of Fame which is the most prestigious honor Ski New Mexico can bestow. Colleen McConvill of Taos Ski Valley took the Best of the Best award for Customer Service and Bruce Holle of Red River was the winner in the Rental Shop category. Two people were selected for Mountain Operations; Chris Bell of Sipapu Resort and Fred Pavlovic of Ski Apache. Peter Donahue of Taos Ski Valley won the award for Ski Instructor.
“We received many excellent nominations in every category, and it was hard to select winners. In fact, we all are winners, guests and resorts alike, because of these excellent individuals who perform an exceptional service in their specific roles.” said Tom Long committee chairman for the New Mexico Ski Hall of Fame and general manager of the Pajarito Mountain Ski Area.
Pajarito Mountain Ski Patrol Director Bill Purtymun congratulated Schaller and thanked him for his work.
“This award is well-deserved and a great honor,” he said.
Schaller told the Los Alamos Reporter that he is very excited and honored to receive the award.
“But I must point out that I stand on the shoulders of giants – all of my fellow patrollers. One does not receive an award like this without the hard work and support of many others along the way. Our ski patrol is very special. We work incredibly hard as a team, no matter what gets thrown at us; from sitting through an extra-long and not-so-glorious first responder shift, to participating in a search and rescue at 3 a.m. in blizzard conditions, we somehow always manage to do it with a smile,” he said.
Schaller said it has been his honor to serve with the patrol for what will be 25 years in 2020.
In announcing the awards, Ski New Mexico officials said the Best of the Best award winners make the ski industry in New Mexico better for everyone involved.
“They make your day better, the sport more fun and your experience of skiing in New Mexico better than anywhere else in the country,” the announcement stated. “Eric, your contributions are too numerous to list but you were truly the cream of the crop. Ski New Mexico salutes you for your outstanding efforts which go above and beyond.”
In addition to the award, Scheller will receive a Ski New Mexico Gold Pass for the 2019-2020 season.