Last Saturday Big Sky Resort hosted the 9th Annual Headwaters Spring Runoff. This was my first annual runoff and the first time a monoskier (two bindings on one board) took on The Headwaters. It was also a first for many competitors with 10 who had never competed in a big mountain competition before, and an additional half dozen who had never competed in the Headwaters Spring Runoff. I was not alone in my new surroundings, but gained a sense of belonging from this event's community. More than one-hundred spectators littered the snowy knoll above the finish line with youthful, albeit dirtbag, cheers. None of the 39 competitors came to the hi-vis finish without a cowbell, a yodel, or a friend handing out gummy bears to bring them home. Even Big Sky Resort's videographer, whose footage you're about to see, yelled out a congrats or two. The vibe was alive in the Stillwater Bowl that day. I can't wait to see what the juniors are going to bring this Saturday in the second leg of the Headwater Spring Runoff. Check out the two videos and the entire list of scores for the adult competition below.
Cinematography and Edited by Chris Kamman
Jamey Stogsdill has shredded Big Sky Resort and numerous Montana mountains since she was young. When she had an accident a few years ago she knew she wanted to keep shredding those mountains. About a week ago Jamey broke the boundary and became the first female monoskier (and third ever monoskier) to shred the Big Couloir. As someone who has yet to ski the Big, I find each person who goes over that edge to be inspiring, but Jamey's story breaks that inspiration into something more. I tear up every time I watch this video. Not at the part where Jamey talks about her accident, but at the part when she gets to the bottom of the Big. The joy she expresses in that moment is true insight into life.
Cinematography and Edited by Chris Kamman
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:
The skiing and snowboarding at Big Sky Resort has been fantastic this year (I can attest to the skiing, the snowboarding is hearsay). With nearly a 100" base on the upper mountain, conditions are solid and powder can be found off of every lift. Mother Nature and Father Sky continually look kindly on Big Sky Resort as we have received snow 24 of the last 27 days, yet the sun has also shined through providing plenty of goggle tans.
Last Saturday, I skied off of Moonlight area lifts all day. As someone who grew up going to Big Sky Resort from the early 90s until today, I have been fortunate to explore the Moonlight side of Lone Peak this year. The first few runs of the day I stuck close to Moonlight Lodge (ensuring to get some of those Parmesan Garlic Fries on my ride break), mostly skiing in the trees through Upper Bearcat Gully, Hollywood or Snake Bite to Lower Bearcat Gully, Iron Maiden, and Dogwood. One word describes these runs, especially on a powder day: Contagious. Skiing in the gully near Iron Horse Lift is a unique experience few mountains provide. Sweet snowy turns through the trees give me an infectious delight. Although these runs are not as long as so many others up here off Lone Peak, they're worth exploring.
After my fries at Moonlight Lodge I ventured over to Lone Tree Lift to huck some cliffs. Kidding! But I did take a few hops off of small rocks on Lone Tree and enjoyed the subtle black diamond Grizzly Meadows.
The days I spend skiing pass by in a blur. How very lucky we all are to be able to welcome and enjoy all the fresh snow we received at Big Sky Resort, about 90" this past February. March is just getting started and I'm looking forward to yet another month of making the best of a great snowy situation.
Photo by Ryan Turner Photography
Inside Moonlight Lodge
Love the Big Sky Terrain Parks? I do too, even if I can't hit many features. Here are a few facts and tidbits from our own terrain park expert, Nate Bell, Big Sky Resort's Terrain Park Manager:
How long have you worked at Big Sky Resort?
How many parks do we have now?
Eight terrain parks total. Three large, three medium, and two small parks.
What new features are you most excited to a) build and b) hit?
We just finished a new feature called a lollipop that has become a huge hit in Zero Gravity Terrain Park. I'm most excited to hit The Ambush Jump Line on the far left of Ambush below Ramcharger Lift. They are decent sized and really fun.
The Lollipop now in Zero Gravity Terrain Park.
What can last year's terrain park fans expect differently out of this year's parks?
A new look to all of our features and a massive feature count of more than 100.
Can we expect to see any pro or semi-pro athletes in the parks this year?
They are always around you just have to keep an eye out for them. Two days ago our park crew spotted Nicolas Müller a Swiss pro snowboarder lapping Zero Gravity.
If any athlete could come, who should come and why?
The Traveling Circus crew, because they travel the entire country but rarely to Montana.
What's your favorite feature and your favorite park?
The 42' up-down rail in Zero Gravity Terrain Park.
Check out the Smokin' Aces: Ace of Hearts Slopestyle competition on Saturday, March 8, starting around noon at the Zero Gravity Terrain Park.
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