2014 Winter Olympics: To Sochi or to Big Sky Resort?
I've always wanted to go to the Winter Olympics and continually kick myself for missing them in Salt Lake City in 2000. Perhaps you've also always wanted to go to Big Sky Resort. Here's everything you need to know about choosing between Sochi and Big Sky during at least some of the Olympic freeskiing events (Feb. 11-14):
Flights: Although this is a vacation, I'm still practical. Coach it is.
Average price to Sochi from major U.S. Airports: $2,500
Average price to Big Sky from major U.S. Airports: $500
Hotel: Try out a 4-star hotel (especially in Russia).
Mishilen Hotal (Sochi) for 2-bedroom suite: $8,900 (for 3 nights)
Summit Hotel (Big Sky Resort) for 2-bedroom suite with breakfast: $7,000 (for 3 nights)
Transportation: I could take a cab from the airport to the action in Sochi, which would only set me back about $100. Not bad, but then how do I get around once I'm in Sochi?
Rental Car in Sochi (from Sochi International Airport): $2,079
Rental Car in Big Sky (from the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport): $210
Tickets: I suppose one could go to Sochi and still watch the Olympics from their hotel room, but I suggest getting tickets to the best events.
Winter Olympics: $120 (ish) to watch 1 event on 1 day OR $1,500 to watch the Opening Ceremonies
Lift Ticket to the Biggest Skiing in America: $99 for one day
Food and Drink: I've got to try the regional specialties, and eat three square meals a day.
Average price of a meal in Sochi: $14-20
Average price of a meal in Big Sky: $10-20
Average price of a bottle of wine in Sochi: $35
Average price of a bottle of wine in Big Sky: $30
Souvenirs: A Matryoshka doll and USA swag is a must from Sochi. As is a Big Sky Resort t-shirt or coffee mug.
Matryoshka doll: $39 (for a hand-painted one)
USA t-shirt: $37.95
Big Sky t-shirt: $22
Big Sky Mug: $12
Total Cost of going to Sochi: $13,724.95
Total Cost of going to Big Sky: $7,883
The Gold Medalist is ... Big Sky Resort. Big Sky Resort is not only less expensive than going to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, but it's just down right affordable any time of the year.
Added Bonuses of going to Big Sky:
1) Watching professional skiing is fun, but actually skiing is even better. Unlike a lot of the world right now, Big Sky Resort has got snow (and lots of it). Big Sky Resort's base is 43" mid-mountain and 64" upper-mountain-nothing but sweet sweet snow in Big Sky.
2) Crowds vs. No lift lines: Let's not forget the crowds of the Olympic Games, which make it impossible, at times, to even see the event or finish line (don't even get me started on that line for the bathroom), whereas Big Sky Resort certainly has no bathroom lines, and, even better, has no lift lines.
3) Skiing an Olympian's home mountain: Big Sky Resort official athlete ambassador Heather McPhie's home mountain is Big Sky Resort. Ski where she grew up skiing and still skis. Then après in a nice warm Whiskey Jack's while watching her go for gold on NBC-something you might miss in-person.
All this puts Big Sky Resort over the top. Skip Sochi and seek the peak.
Olympian Heather McPhie
Photo: Mel Libby