First Annual Lloyd Bolander Memorial Day

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Sipapu’s founding father Lloyd Bolander passed away last month, but his family says Lloyd’s legacy will live on, and the ski area will celebrate his contribution to the resort, the community and to the sport of skiing during the first annual Lloyd Bolander Memorial Day on February 22.

Bolander passed away on January 20 at his home in Vadito, just a few miles from the ski area he opened 62 years ago. He was 86 years old.

The Bolander family (including Lloyd’s wife of 64 years, Olive, his daughter, Sipapu’s Ski School Director, Sue Leslie; and his son, Sipapu’s managing partner, Bruce) decided the most fitting way to remember Lloyd was to do what he loved best: skiing.

“My dad defined what it meant to love to ski and to share that love for skiing with others,” said Bruce. “Our family is looking forward to this day where we can remember him here, at this mountain he called home.”

During the February 22 event, a portion of all lift ticket proceeds will go to the Bolander Fund, which the family started to help youth ski programs and needs.

“Our intent with this fund is to provide financial assistance to area kids who want to learn to ski and need a little help doing it,” Bolander said. “My dad was passionate about teaching others to ski and making that instruction available to everyone, and I know he would’ve been proud of this program.”

The February 22 event will also include a reception from 1:00-3:00 in the Day Room, located in the historic lodge Lloyd built. Refreshments will be served, and the event is free and open to the public.

Those who are not able to attend the event may contribute directly to the Bolander Fund by sending check or money order (with “Bolander Fund” in the memo) to: Taos Community Foundation, P.O. Box 1925, Taos, NM 87571, or they may make a contribution online at taoscf.org.

The resort expects to make the Lloyd Bolander Memorial Day an annual event.

A New Mexico native, Bolander grew up in Penasco, and began skiing at age three, shooting the gaps between pine trees on U.S. Hill near Taos on skis purchased from Montgomery Ward.

In 1950, Lloyd and his new bride, Olive, bought 13 acres of riverfront property in the Sangre de Cristo mountains with a simple but meaningful desire to create a sustainable life doing something they loved in the valley they called home. Two years later, Lloyd opened his ski area with a 100-foot-long portable rope tow and charged 50 cents per lift ticket. He christened his slope “Sipapu,” a Tewa word for “land of paradise.”

Over the years, Lloyd – with the support of Olive, his daughter, Sue, and his son, Bruce – added and replaced lifts, put in new trails, hand-built all of the resort’s slopeside lodging, and opened a rental shop, restaurant, and store.

Lloyd was most passionate about teaching others – especially children – how to ski. He founded the Sipapu School Program, which offers deep discounts to local schools who brought their classes to learn to ski (Sue, Sipapu’s Ski School Director, now champions this initiative).

In 1984, Lloyd and Olive retired from their daily duties at Sipapu, although he frequented the resort regularly, usually helping his daughter teach ski school lessons. Lloyd and Olive were inducted into the New Mexico Ski Hall of Fame in 2004. Last May the Professional Ski Instructors Association recognized Lloyd for 55 years of PSIA service.

“Lloyd was one of the last true pioneers of New Mexico. He and Olive had a vision for their family and community that they successfully brought to fruition through their vibrant spirits and sheer determination. That vision is carried on by his children and those of us that are blessed to be a part of his family,” said Sipapu managing partner James Coleman. “He never stopped learning and striving to be his best. He directly impacted the lives of tens of thousands and will be dearly missed.”

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