With record breaking skier visitation at 473,000, up seven and a half percent year over year combining Moonlight Basin, the mantra, Better Together, rings true. However, Better Together doesn't stand alone as a symbol of one resort or a symbol of how pulling together results in a record-breaking season, with it comes individual stories and personal reflection on the community of Big Sky and the love of Lone Mountain. Long-time local and Big Sky Resort employee Victor Deleo shares his perspective on what Better Together means from someone who cares for the community and the mountain. To read the full story, check out the latest issue of Live Big Magazine coming Summer 2014 to Big Sky Resort.
In 2003, I was like most young men in Big Sky, Montana. Skiing ruled my life. Big Sky Resort boasted over 4000 vertical feet, 400 inches of snow, and averaged 2 acres per skier. There was no better place for the skier to be. Then suddenly it got better.
That summer, more lifts were erected, more lodges were built, and for the first time in 20 years, a new destination ski resort was opened in the USA: Moonlight Basin. And conveniently, this resort was attached to our already-enormous and beloved mountain. We had more ski runs, more jobs, and more beds for guests. The skiable acres would be so huge, I was sure I'd never have to cross another ski track. But at the same time, things were changing for us that I wasn't expecting. Moonlight Basin brought another base area lodge, a new logo, and another lift system. Skiers began choosing one resort and not the other. While we were all gaining more opportunity, we were becoming slightly divided as a community at the same time. That's how it was for the folks that skied here. This was one mountain, and yet, every skier had to choose a side when he purchased his lift ticket or season pass. Even Aspen had four mountains that were a drive apart, and yet, they had one lift ticket. Then in 2005, with the collaboration of both ski resorts, came a combined option, The Lone Peak Pass. Skiers could finally ski the whole mountain on one, single purchase which was, as Christopher Solomon of the New York Times wrote in 2006, "the most you can ride in the United States without clicking out of your bindings."
Years later, the Lone Peak Pass was appropriately renamed The Biggest Skiing in America Pass because no other ski area had more acres. While this integration was a monumental accomplishment, it was still two resorts, one mountain, and three lift ticket options. Finally, in October 2013, ten years after the creation of Moonlight Basin, both resorts integrated under one name and one lift ticket. Big Sky Resort could claim with certainty, "The Biggest Skiing in America. Period." So now, guests purchase one ticket and have access to the whole thing.
Big Sky Resort's General Manager, Taylor Middleton said it best. "The integration has fueled record-breaking visitation which helps businesses and residents in our community." The integration has given Big Sky Resort the edge in the marketplace as the largest single ski resort in the US. It is now easier to book a vacation here. Our community is no longer divided. And for me, I'm still not crossing ski tracks.
"Photographs alter and enlarge our notions of what is worth looking at and what we have the right to observe ... we can hold the whole world in our heads-as an anthology of images. To collect photographs is to collect the world."-Susan Sontag On Photography
These photographs of the last two weeks at Big Sky Resort reflect our world and reach those near and far through the medium of blogging. Living Big: Stories from the Big Sky Life blog presents one way we can admire the massive amounts of snowfall we've received, but I urge you to come see for yourself. As living a life through photographs may show us the world, but it will not enliven our senses.
Photo: Perry Rust
Photo: Lonnie Ball
Photo: Lonnie Ball
Photo: Lonnie Ball
This Saturday evening, MT Living Health Coach Melinda Turner joins us once again at Big Sky Resort for "The Art of Eating for Energy." Not only is eating for energy vital to a community that thrives on snowsports and non-stop summer fun, but healthy eating (and drinking) does not always go hand-in-hand with such communities. It's easy for me to find an event where I can grab a beer and watch Dummy's jump or enjoy a margarita while listening to an awesome band at Whiskey Jack's, but I'm looking forward to more events at Big Sky Resort that involve a female expert on healthy eating and living as this is something I strive to improve in my own life.
Big Sky local Melinda Turner is the founder of MT Holistic Living, and helps so many of us in this small town find passion and purpose with our health. Turner's Pinterest page is the inspiration for today's Living Big post. Here are is my favorite recipe repined by Turner, and a great workout pin from Turner's Clean Eating Pinterest Board and Keep Moving Board.
Roasted Veggie and Black Bean Burritos:
• 2 whole Sweet Potatoes, Peeled And Cubed Small
• 2 whole Jalapenos Diced
• 1 whole Red Pepper, Diced Small
• 1 whole Red Onion, Diced Small
• 2 teaspoons Olive Oil
• 1 teaspoon Cumin
• 1 teaspoon Chili Powder
• 1 pinch Salt And Pepper
• 1 can Black Beans, Rinsed And Drained (15 Ounce Can)
• ½ cups Fresh Cilantro, Chopped
• 2 teaspoons Fresh Lime Juice
• 2 cups Shredded Cheddar
• 1 package Burrito-Sized Wheat Tortillas Or Wraps (6-10 Count)
In a bowl, toss your raw veggies in olive oil and season with spices. Place in a large baking dish and roast in 425 degree oven for 20 minutes, tossing around halfway through.
Let cool. Add your roasted veggies to a can of rinsed black beans. Add cilantro and squirt of lime juice. Combine gently. At this point, mixture can be stored for later use.
Warm your wheat tortillas or wraps in microwave according to directions on package. Spray a casserole dish with nonstick spray or olive oil spray.
Add two heaping tablespoons of vegetable and bean mixture to center of wrap. Top with shredded cheese. Fold over, fold in sides, place in pan and continue to roll the others. Place into your baking dish, seam side down so that they stay together.
Bake in 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Baking this way will make the tortilla wrap crisp. For a softer burrito, spray burrito with nonstick spray, then wrap in aluminum foil and bake for same amount of time.
Makes about 6 burritos.
Beginner Kettlebell Tips:
1) Two-handed kettlebell swing targets
2) One-handed kettlebell swing targets
3) Two-arm kettlebell row targets
4) Kettlebell figure-8
5) Kettlebell Russian Twists
"I had to laugh when you asked how long I have lived in Big Sky," Lonnie Ball said as we loaded Swifty two weeks ago on a sunny powder day. "Mary and I live in Bridger."
Ball and his wife Mary ski at Big Sky Resort nearly every day. As a retired owner of Montana Powder Guide and nearly full-time photographer, Ball drives the 80 miles from Bridger to Big Sky for the terrain and access to that terrain.
"We could hike the ridge (at Bridger Bowl) all day, but we'd be up there with nearly 1,000 other people," Ball said, also noting that even on the busiest days at Big Sky Resort there is still only a maximum of around 600 skiers off the peak. The peak offers fresh line after fresh line, according to Ball, and he skis it all.
I met the Balls at the bottom of Swift Current around 11a.m. (they had already done a couple runs). Riding the Lone Peak Triple over to the Tram I commented on Ball's sweet skis.
"They're the best snowboard on two feet," Ball joked. His Pow NAS were given to him by Snowboarding Manufacturer Lib Tech to demo, and aside from getting a little bumpy on traverses, he loves them (and they look cool too).
We did two tram laps, and then took Erika's Glades down to Dakota Chair, where we found ourselves in the peaceful arms of Dakota Territory.
If you ski at Big Sky often enough, you'll eventually find yourself sharing a chair or a tram car with the Balls. Rare was a run where someone didn't wave or holler at Ball. He is a Big Sky legend, and for good reason. Ball has been skiing Big Sky for years, and, aside from a stint in Utah (where he met Mary) and Jackson Hole (where he has a run named after him, and where he was the first person to ever jump into Corbet's Couloir in 1967), he's lived in Montana for most of his life-guiding, patrolling, and skiing.
Ball and I both grew up in Great Falls and learned to ski at Showdown (although for him it was still called King's Hill). Great Falls is that blue collar part of Montana where every dad takes off work to watch his son wrestle, and every cowboy finds a friend at the Steinhaus or the Halftime. It's a city where one learns to tell stories in that slow and patient way cowboys do. Although he's not a cowboy in the traditional sense, Ball is a fine storyteller with no shortage of tales and experiences to share. I asked him about his most memorable times skiing at Showdown and at Big Sky. He told me the story behind a poem written by Eric Gustafson (a member of a legendary ski family in Montana) about a time when Duke and Rib Gustafson saw 15-year-old Lonnie packing snow before a ski race at Showdown. The poem is as follows:
He worked that slope, He packed the powder
Softened snowflakes, wafting ‘round.
Between the poles the slalom twisted
For hours more he'd tamp it down.
This task was his and all the racers
Preparing the course for that days event
The price they paid, for every gate rut
Had to be packed before they went.
His mind was soft just like the powder.
With numbing cold, high mountain breeze
When he looked were two dark figures
Bouncing down between the trees.
The gray mist powder sailed about them
Effortless they floated by
Like angels sent from skiers heaven
Their message brought on snowflaked sky
They paused near him and smiled through goggles
The Gustafson brothers, Duke and Rib.
"Howdy son," they articulated
As he loosened up his bib.
Just a kid, the brothers noted,
Working the pack like they had done.
Years before they both competed
Races long past and many won.
They watched him pack as he sweated.
They rarely stopped when powder fell.
One more question, they posited,
Before they drifted down that hill.
"Ya gonna pack it ... or you gonna ski it?"
They left him with the question said,
Then disappeared in clouds of powder
The phantom floaters in his head.
He raced that day one last measure
Before he shifted his soul that day
A powder hound just like the brothers
He found his passion his life's highway.
Ball is "the kid" in that poem. Putting pen to paper about a man who knows Big Sky Resort better than almost anyone is a challenge. How can I capture the surety and strength of his voice when he tells stories or of his skiing as he smoothly descends Marx and Lenin? He is a man who has snapped a photo or two of each member of the Kircher family at some point, has photos all around the resort and the community, competes (and wins) Powder Eight competitions around the country, and is working on a story about the best food to try at each dining outlet around the entire mountain. Not to mention his generosity of spirit and genuine nature are contagious, creating connections wherever he goes. Look for Ball on the hill, in the Headwaters Grille during lunch, or at Moonlight Lodge before the lifts start turning in the morning; he'll gladly ski with you or share a story or two about Big Sky and his love for snow. It's people like Ball who make this community a wonderful place to live and ski, even if he does live in Bridger.
Planning a destination wedding? Look no further than Big Sky, Montana. With world-class lodging, dining, and skiing, Big Sky Resort is the perfect place for your big day. Here are the top reasons to marry that special someone in the mountains of Big Sky.
1. Montana's big sky. Whether indoors or out, the Montana sky opens up and embraces you like the arms of the one you love.
2. Nature's Romance. See the wild flowers in full bloom, spot a moose, mountain goat, or elk, and get married in front of iconic Lone Peak. Not only does nature create for amazing wedding photos, but it will take your breath away.
3. The Wild West. The bell of the ball meets the Wild West without giving up elegance, luxury, or ease of access. Some couples marry in a hot air balloon; others take the bungee plunge after saying "I do." If these feats of strength and adrenaline are up your alley, Big Sky Resort is the place for your extreme wedding. Ski to the ceremony location, take the tram to 11,166 feet, whitewater raft the Gallatin River, or zipline through the trees post-nuptial.
4. Anniversary Destination Trips. One of the best parts of having a destination wedding is the return anniversary trip.
5. Guest Experience. Big Sky Resort offers one-of-a-kind experiences for your guests from multiple ziplines to a plethora of restaurants to choose from. All within walking distance of the Mountain Village.
6. Food. From the ultimate fondue experience to the Huckleberry Bison Short Ribs, prepare your palate for delicious delicacies right here at Big Sky Resort.
7. Moonlight Lodge Penthouse. Big Sky Resort offers hundreds of room types, but the Moonlight Lodge Penthouse is as unique and beautiful as the mountains surrounding it. With slopeside access for the winter wedding or private balconies perfect for dining in the summer, the Moonlight Lodge offers a private entrance and hot tub, yet easy access to the Spa, Mercantile, Jack Creek Grille, and much more.
Moonlight Lodge Penthouse.
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