Snowbowl celebrates 75th Anniversary

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Despite dry winters and a snowmaking controversy, Arizona Snowbowl has thrived and recently celebrated its 75th anniversary. Since its establishment in 1938, neither Flagstaff nor NAU can be mentioned without drawing to mind the glossy slopes of Snowbowl. For years, many students have even made NAU their university choice due to the availability of a nearby ski resort. The resort and university have indeed shared mutual benefits in the 75 years of Snowbowl’s existence and have a rich history uniting the two.


A group of employees and loyal customers celebrate around a bonfire, the occasion was Snowbowl’s 75th Anniversary. There was a ceremony and celebration on Friday the 1st. (Photo by Jeff Bucher)

Snowbowl public relations representative David Smith had much to say on the relationship between Snowbowl and the university.

“Well, the relationship between the university and the ski area has always been a very strong one. The very beginning when Snowbowl first opened, they did have their own ski team that did compete regionally. A lot of our employees are students,” Smith said. “When I came to NAU, I became a ski instructor and that’s how I got into the industry, and because of the mountain here. A lot of our pass holders are students. There has always been a great relationship between the ski area and NAU in supporting outdoor recreation.”

A testament to Smith’s comments regarding Snowbowl and NAU can be heard from the many students who frequent the ski park.

“I’ve been snowboarding for four years. Since moving to Flag I’ve had a pass every year,” said Cody Duncan, a junior business management major.

When asked if Snowbowl had impacted his decision to come to NAU, Duncan said, “Having a nearby mountain probably affected 10 percent of my decision.”

While 10 percent may not seem like an astonishing number, college decisions may often come down to the smaller issues when two schools offer similar programs or have equivalent tuition costs. The backdrop to NAU and Flagstaff is just as much of a recruitment tool for possible students as are the standard reasons to attend.

Jeff Haney, a business management and marketing major, who has been snowboarding for eight years, agreed.

“[Snowbowl] definitely affected my decision because it adds more to the outdoor activities available. I figured I would be happier in a place with more recreational activities,” Haney said.

Snowbowl has been able to sway many skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts to attend NAU. There is another benefit to the relationship between NAU and Snowbowl: most students from elsewhere would have to flake out on class to take a trip to a ski resort, but NAU, in a partnership with Snowbowl, has created a Physical Education Services class specifically designed for those interested in learning how to snowboard or ski.

Euston Smalley, a recent transfer student, compared his experience with Physical Education Services courses at other universities to NAU’s Downhill Ski and Snowboard classes saying, “I’ve taken different PES classes and in this NAU class, they really make you interact with other students and form friendships.”

The Flagstaff and NAU community reflect on the history and impact on Snowbowl. Its history may be considered the founding of a ski team during Snowbowl’s first season in 1938 or the Downhill Ski and Snowboard class that united friends and uncovered unknown talents and passions in others. The defining answer is Snowbowl is deeply embedded in the Flagstaff and NAU community, which would have been drastically altered if Snowbowl’s doors had never opened.

With the students and Flagstaff citizens in mind, Snowbowl has decided to come off the mountain and celebrate in the streets of downtown Flagstaff with a series of events they call “Snowbowl Goes Downtown.” Many of these will take place in various places downtown from Feb. 1 to 10. For more information, visit



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