Favorites ... Everyone has one. Mine just so happens to be a steep and twisted cirque on the north side of Big Sky Resort known as The Headwaters. After many years of hiking and riding the beautiful and sunny A-Z Chutes one day I found myself being strangely drawn to their darker and mysterious big sister The Headwaters. What I found was a whole new inbounds ski experience unlike anything I had ever seen. One that offered the relative ease of access provided by lifts, signage, a passionate and capable ski patrol and maintained hiking trails but... ended in obscurity. Standing atop the hike laid out before me was nothing short of a labyrinth. Interconnecting chutes, spines, rocky buttresses, hanging snowfields and massive amounts of exposure as far as my eyes could see were all open wall to wall. My partner and I sat a long time studying the cirque, watching other skiers and riders make their way, and getting comfortable with our new surroundings. The vibe of this place was intoxicating yet it's philosophy quite sobering: If you can see it you can ski it. In the world of resort skiing this was where the sidewalk ends. In The Headwaters the only limitations were my own.
It's been several years since that day and my passion and respect of The Headwaters has only grown. Each season I patiently watch and wait as the snow and winds shape and reshape the terrain. This season long study comes to a head each spring with the Headwaters Spring Runoff and the Subaru Freeride Series World Qualifier. These freeride competitions are held each year in the Headwaters venue and allow local and regional skiers and riders the chance to compete for fun, prizes, points and even a chance to compete on the Freeride World Tour. These conditions blogs below are my weekly observations of the venue and will hopefully serve as a resource for other competitors to stay safe, get creative and prepare for these events. Tune in here as well as Big Sky Resort's Facebook Page, Twitter, and Event Calendar for the latest news and info on conditions and competitions.
March 15: Adult Headwaters Spring Runoff (Click HERE to register)
March 22: Junior Headwaters Spring Runoff (This event is FULL. Click here to be put on the Wait List)
April 2-6: Subaru Freeride Series FWQ
Last Update March 12, 2014:
It's a powder day! Big Sky Resort just received 22-29"/24 hours. Mid-mountain base depth is 76" and the upper mountain base is 109". Winds are out of the NW at 5 mph. Skies are mostly sunny with temps around 25 degrees. Snow is a little heavier than normal and control work left a lot of debris in the run outs, but overall the skiing/riding is good. Forecast is calling for sunny skies and highs in the low 30's the next few days.
The 9th Annual Headwaters Spring Runoff Adult Venue
Shots of The Headwaters from March 12, 2014:
Rob McCoury, 2013 Grammy winner for Best New Bluegrass Album, The Streets of Baltimore, plays Big Sky Resort's Big Sky Big Grass this weekend with The Travelin' McCourys. His 5-string banjo and bluegrass songwriting skills are the best in the business. When McCoury is not touring the country he makes his home in Nashville, where he has received numerous awards for his contributions to bluegrass music. Here are a few words from McCoury on his years in Bluegrass and his excitement at coming back to Big Sky Big Grass for the fourth time:
Where did you grow up and how did that place influence your music?
I grew up in southern Pennsylvania, in a house filled with music.
Who are your musical influences and style influences, whether musical or otherwise?
My father Del McCoury, Earl Scruggs, Sonny Osborne, JD Crowe, and the people they played with.
Can you tell us a little bit about your relationship with your instruments and strings?
My two main instruments were very special gifts given to me out of the blue. I use Daddario strings, they sound great and last a long time.
Can you tell us a story from being on the road?
Nothing juicy. Our first trip to Big Grass, we got snowed in, in South Carolina of all places, and arrived at the festival a day late.
This is your fourth year back to Big Sky Big Grass, what is unique to playing in Big Sky, Montana?
Its just an awesome event all the way around.
What keeps you coming back?
Steve Merlino, what a great guy.
What do you love about Big Sky outside of the festival?
Where do you see bluegrass music headed?
Bluegrass is steady growing in popularity.
What does the future of bluegrass look like?
The future looks great, better than ever.
Check out The Travelin' McCourys at Big Sky Big Grass in the Missouri Ballroom on Sunday. Get tickets here.
The Travelin' McCourys
"Apparently, I'm only the third woman ever to receive this award, and I'm so honored to be numbered with Lilly Tomlin and Whoopi Goldberg, but I do hope that women are achieving at a rate these days that we can stop counting what number they are achieving things."-Tina Fey
I was always in Tina Fey's camp. I didn't really appreciate the "women's issue" of Freeskier Magazine, and, in college, wrote a scathing op-ed piece about Women's History Month. Why were women purposefully segregating themselves? While I still agree with Fey's sentiment I no longer deem women's events as offensive to women. And with an event like Get the Girls Out, how could it be?
Get the Girls Out is an ongoing national event where women get together to ride. And it's happening Jan. 3 at Big Sky Resort. It's an exciting day for women of all ages to come together, meet new people, inspire one-another to shred, and help out an amazing organization, SheJumps.org.
A professor of mine taught me that as long as oppression of a people-group occurs in society there will be a need for the gathering together of those who feel discriminated against. That is why I am rooting for Get the Girls Out at Big Sky Resort. Not to say that I don't already ski with some pretty amazing women on a weekly basis, but I am rooting for the day's success because it is inspiring to see so many women come together to ski with a sense of belonging in a sport dominated by men.
The mission of Get the Girls Out Day is to bring women together of all ages as they "support, challenge, mentor, and inspire each other in the outdoor sports world ... to inspire younger generations to storm mountains." See you out there, ladies.
Register for Get the Girls Out Day in the Mammoth Room of the Mountain Mall day-of at Big Sky Resort.
Amidst a hectic travel schedule, Olympian Heather McPhie had a chance to chat with Big Sky Resort about the upcoming Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, where McPhie will compete in Freestyle Moguls for team USA and represent Big Sky Resort as an official athlete ambassador.
Big Sky Resort is fortunate and excited to have you as our official resort athlete ambassador. What were your initial reasons or thoughts in partnering with Big Sky Resort?
Big Sky is such a natural fit for me as an ambassador and I am thrilled to be joining up with the resort. My family has skied together at Big Sky every Christmas we spent together (at some points more than 20 of us), and my passion for mogul skiing started on Mad Wolf. I love the terrain and the views. I've spent countless days there and have so many wonderful memories of my time skiing both in terms of the terrain and the incredible people I have been able to spend time with at the mountain.
As someone who has never been to a Summer or Winter Olympics, can you describe in five words or less what that atmosphere feels like? At the opening or closing ceremonies and on the slopes.
These are really tough questions ... I feel like I could write book on it. I'll give you a few options: Electrifying positive spirit. The celebration of human potential. Once-in-a-lifetime moments.
Because the Olympics are a time when the average American watches sports they would not normally watch at a professional level, how do you think that impacts your sport? What would you say to people to encourage them to watch year-round and/or to just watch your event in the Olympics?
Our sport is so fun to watch. It is fast (less than 30 seconds), and you can see the entire course from top to bottom. You will see people on their edge, more twists and flips than you will most likely be able to name or count, and the crowd always has a good time. In terms of the Olympics, the intensity of any athlete, in any sport, at those pivotal Olympic moments is a memory and a feeling that can stick with you for life. Plus, Women's Freestyle Moguls is the first medal given at the Olympics, which is pretty cool.
What do you do to mentally recover from a loss or an injury?
The simple answer: I keep going. I put on good music, write in my journal, and evaluate the situation. I evaluate if it is something I need help with from a physical therapist, my strength coach, my on-hill coach, or my sports psychologist. If so, I reach out as soon as I can and make a plan. I feel the best and most confident when I feel in control of my career and my experience. Often when I'm facing something hard or scary I think of the quote, "Do what you can, where you are, with what you have" (Theodore Roosevelt). If I'm attentive to each moment and doing everything I can think of each step of the way, what else can I ask of myself? That gives me comfort.
What is one superstition or habit you do before each competition?
When I am at the top of the course I close my eyes and think of people who have supported me along my way. Some people pop into my mind almost every time, but it is amazing how often different people from all areas of my life and my support crew show up. This almost always puts a smile on my face and reminds me how grateful and how lucky I am to be doing what I am doing. After that, I take a deep breath, place my fingers to my eyes as a cue for focus, and let everything else go.
We wish Heather the best of luck and good will in the Olympics in February. Join us in the Talus Room at the Summit Hotel on Saturday, Dec. 21 for a meet-and-greet and Q&A with McPhie and bid on some amazing silent auction items to support McPhie's Olympic Expenses, Big Sky Youth Empowerment, and Eagle Mount. For more details check out the Big Sky Resort Events Calendar.
Seeing Turkey for a Ticket succeed beyond any one person's expectations makes me proud. As with any big event or fundraiser, there were some bumps along the tryptophan-paved road, but in the end, the Gallatin County Food Bank, Madison County Food Bank, and Big Sky Food Bank took home 76,424-lbs (a record one-time food drive for all 3 food banks) of food for nearly 14,000 people in Gallatin and Madison counties who live in poverty. Living in poverty means a family of four has a yearly income of $20,000 or less. Since the early 1990s, Montana has had a higher average of citizens living in poverty than the United States' average, and Madison and Gallatin Counties have historically had a higher average than the Montana average. Turkey for a Ticket made so many aware of that need just by seeing trucks full of turkeys and canned food. By bringing in just one turkey, so much help was given to our neighbors. A huge thanks goes out to all who donated their time and money to help their neighbors this winter and help the larger Big Sky community by coming together for the greater good.
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