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SnoFest proves popular, draws skiers from far, near

Maj. Ellen Adams, acquisition officer for Air Force Space Command contracting, pushes off from the starting house during NASTAR racing Jan. 27 at Keystone. SnoFest skiers or snowboarders could race the course free as part of the weekend’s activities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Steve Brady)

Maj. Ellen Adams, acquisition officer for Air Force Space Command contracting, pushes off from the starting house during NASTAR racing Jan. 27 at Keystone. SnoFest skiers or snowboarders could race the course free as part of the weekend's activities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Steve Brady)

Cardboard derby entrant 2nd Lt. Zach Bass (left), deputy flight commander, 90th Services Squadron, F.E. Warren Air Force Base, helps prepare his team’s derby entry Jan. 27 at Keystone. Helping Lieutenant Bass are his friends Michael Hays (center) and Carl Seiley, from Ohio. (U.S. Air Force photo by Steve Brady)

Cardboard derby entrant 2nd Lt. Zach Bass (left), 90th Services Squadron deputy flight commander, F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., helps prepare his team's derby entry Jan. 27 at Keystone. Helping Lieutenant Bass are his friends Michael Hays (center) and Carl Seiley, from Ohio. (U.S. Air Force photo by Steve Brady)

Julie King, Kayla King, Alexandra Ashcroft and Canadian Warrant Officer Les Deviller, NORAD/NORTHCOM J6, speed down Keystone’s Discovery Slope Jan. 27, during the cardboard derby contest. The Crazy Canucks’ sled, made only of cardboard and tape, won the fastest sled category. (U.S. Air Force photo by Steve Brady)

Julie King, Kayla King, Alexandra Ashcroft and Canadian Warrant Officer Les Deviller, NORAD/NORTHCOM J6, speed down Keystone’s Discovery Slope Jan. 27, during the cardboard derby contest. The Crazy Canucks’ sled, made only of cardboard and tape, won the fastest sled category. (U.S. Air Force photo by Steve Brady)

The 25-foot Snow Bull from Schriever AFB plows down the slope Jan. 27 at Keystone. The sled, built by Airmen and civilians from the 50th Civil Engineer Squadron at Schriever, won the Most Creative Design award. (U.S. Air Force photo by Steve Brady)

The 25-foot Snow Bull from Schriever Air Force Base, Colo., plows down the slope Jan. 27 at Keystone. The sled, built by Airmen and civilians from the 50th Civil Engineer Squadron at Schriever, won the "Most Creative Design" award. (U.S. Air Force photo by Steve Brady)

KEYSTONE, Colo. -- Servicemembers stormed Keystone mountain Jan. 26 to 28 for the annual SnoFest weekend.

An estimated 3,600 Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine servicemembers and their families descended on the mountain for a weekend of skiing, ice skating, dining and more.

"We try to provide great things for our Airmen, civilians and their families," said Kaye Grant, 10th Services Marketing director at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo., and SnoFest chairperson. "It's all about ensuring a great quality of life as they give service to our country."

The weekend is hosted by Peterson AFB, Colo., Schriever AFB, Colo., U.S. Air Force Academy, F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo., and Buckley AFB, Colo., Services squadrons, as well as the Fort Carson, Colo., Morale, Welfare and Recreation organization. The Academy's Services squadron was the lead this year.

Participants came from far and near including Whiteman AFB, Mo., Eglin AFB, Fla., Kirtland AFB, N.M., and Cannon AFB, N.M., to name a few. Some were old hands at SnoFest, while others were first-timers.

"This was our first year," said Lt. Col. Matt Ruane, chief, Commercial and Fiscal Law, Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, Air Force Space Command.

"We attended the Mad Hatter party on Friday, and the Blues party and Italian buffet on Saturday -- the kids danced until the last song," he said. "They were both great events -- the Services staff and the Keystone employees made sure everyone had a good time."

About 900 people attended each of the parties.

The first SnoFest was held in 1993 as a one-day event, and has since morphed into a three-day affair.

"The original purpose for SnoFest was to give our troops and their families an opportunity to experience Colorado skiing, winter fun, esprit de corps and family vacation at affordable prices," Ms. Grant said. "Skiing is an expensive sport no matter how you cut it, but SnoFest provides us with the best opportunity to give great discounts on lodging and lift tickets through group rates."

Snofest participants were able to partake in a free racing event. Teams competed Jan. 26, vying for the traveling Commander's Cup. The Peterson team took first place, and Col. Jay G. Santee, 21st Space Wing commander, accepted the trophy at the Blues party Jan. 27.

Despite the lack of fresh powder, skiers enjoyed blue sky and crisp, clean Rocky Mountain air.

"We skied, played in the snow with our children, and attended the Saturday evening buffet," said Tech. Sgt. Shelley Murray, a dental laboratory technician with the 21st Dental Squadron at Peterson.

Sergeant Murray and her family have been attending SnoFest for three years.

"Our favorite part is the skiing," she said, adding that she and her husband take turns skiing while the other watches their young children.

"We have a great time every year with friends and family," Sergeant Murray said. "It's a nice getaway and as always, lots to do."