Taos Stories: Alan MacPhail

Taos Stories: Snowsports Addition   

What is your name, and where are you from?

Alan MacPhail; I grew up in Flint, MI and moved to Taos to be a ski bum in 1979 after graduating from Dartmouth. My parents were thrilled! I met Kim Fagerquist, who old-timers will remember as the daughter of Ed and Billye Fagerquist, proprietors of Fagerquist’s Family-Style Dining just north of the old blinking light. Kim and I were married and had our first child Megan in Taos. In 1984 we moved back east and eventually settled in Evanston, IL after I completed business school. In 2012 I retired from the corporate world and we moved back to Taos; it was an easy decision since all of Kim’s family still reside in northern New Mexico and I love to ski! An added bonus: Megan now lives in Denver, our son Rory lives in Santa Fe, and our son Kevin lives with us in El Prado. We get to see a lot of each other.


Why did you become an instructor, and how long have you been teaching?

In the summer of 2016 I decided I was too young to be completely retired. I accepted a job working as a ski instructor at the Children’s Center, and this is my second season. It’s hard work, much harder physically than I expected, but I’m thoroughly enjoying it! I was certified as a PSIA Level 1 Alpine Instructor last season and this year I plan to go for the Children’s Specialist certification.


Why Taos?

Coincidentally, I have my own Cessna story similar to Ernie’s. My father had a private pilot’s license and in 1970 he flew our family in a Cessna 210 (single engine, 6 seats) to Bisbee, AZ for spring break. On the flight back he pointed out the town of Taos as we flew over it and the name stuck in my head. Years later in 1979 I was reading ski magazines to decide which ski area to move to and came across an article on Taos Ski Valley. The article described it as a “little Swiss village” in the mountains of New Mexico. Sounded right up my alley! I was unaware of the history of northern New Mexico, so the unique combination of Native American, Spanish, and Anglo culture has been a real eye-opener and one of my favorite aspects of living here.


Most inspiring moment you’ve had while teaching?

Since I teach children, often first-timers, there are inspiring moments almost every day! Seeing a child’s eyes light up when they discover the thrill of sliding on skis never gets old. It’s also not uncommon to have kids in your class who are not enjoying themselves; turning those situations around and going from frowns or even crying to big smiles never gets old!


Best tip you give to your students?

We are big proponents of safety at the Children’s Center, so the Skier’s Responsibility Code is always a focus, especially skiing under control and looking up the hill before starting down or crossing a trail.


Best tip a student ever gave you? (Not monetary)

I’ve had a lot of students from Mexico this season so it’s been fun to practice my meager Spanish with them. Recently a youngster from Mexico City helped me come up with a mash up of the song La Bamba and skiing: “Para esquiar bien, se necesita una poco de gracia.”


Favorite après after work?

A very dry Martini on the deck or portal at our house on Blueberry Hill Road.


Skis & boots of choice this season:

K2 Kung Fujas skis, Salomon Impact 120 CS boots


Finish this sentence: The Ernie Blake Snowsports School is the…

...best ski school to turn your children into lifelong skiers or boarders.


Taos just got a foot of fresh. Patrol has done their thing. You’ve got an hour before you have to be at lineups. Where are you heading?

Lorelei or Sir Arnold Lunn.