A Pretty Good Start
Story by Gabrielle Gasser, Photos courtesy of Madeline Thunder
Local artist Madeline Thunder reflects on her own memories at Big Sky to create the resort’s 50th anniversary poster
On a bluebird day at Big Sky Resort, a skier stands atop Headwaters Ridge, scoping out their line. Lower down the mountain, a snowboarder slashes turns through fresh powder while another skier glides onto pristine corduroy. Above them are two trams and one gondola, each one taking skiers and riders closer to the summit of Lone Mountain.
This dynamic scene is part of a new poster celebrating the resort’s 50th anniversary, captured in loving detail by local artist Madeline Thunder. The artwork is a timeline honoring each era of the resort, paying homage to the past and celebrating the future with elements from the ’70s - the original gondola - to the present with the new tram, which opened on December 19.
“We're really excited to have something special and unique to celebrate not only the past 50 years but moving forward into the next 50 years,” said Senior Graphic Designer at Big Sky Resort Margaret Siberell.
Siberell initially came up with the concept for a 50th-anniversary poster and immediately thought of Thunder, a friend and fellow creative, for the project, working together throughout the designing and drawing process. Siberell said that Thunder brought her vision to life and expanded on it with plenty of passionate details.
“Madeline is great to work with,” Siberell said. “She got it from the beginning, and we were both on the same page.”
The goal, according to Siberell, was to celebrate Big Sky’s half a century of history as well as honor this iconic mountain and everything that it has to offer. She emphasized the idea of reflection and taking a moment to look around Big Sky and appreciate the surroundings, much like the skier standing atop the Headwaters Ridge in the poster.
“The idea is, compositionally, from the bottom to the top, you're not only moving up the mountain in elevation, but you're also moving through the generations of Big Sky,” Thunder said. “I wanted to move around the mountain and also move through time and celebrate all the people who have [ever] had epic powder days at Big Sky.”
Madeline Thunder on the A-Z Ridge
Thunder moved to Big Sky in 2018 with the sole goal of being a snowboard bum. She has a background in fine arts, and after spending a couple of years serving, bartending, and riding as much as possible, Thunder began freelancing in 2020. Now, she lives in Bozeman and creates art full-time.
“I just feel so honored to get to celebrate such a landmark achievement for Big Sky Resort,” Thunder said.
To begin this project, Thunder said she went through all her own photos from skiing at Big Sky over the years and enjoyed revisiting her favorite memories as well as her favorite terrain.
“The thing that's so special about Lone Mountain and about the resort is the endless-feeling terrain,” she said. “It’s such a huge mountain, there are so many different zones to explore.”
Hidden in the poster are some of Thunder’s favorite pieces of terrain as well as some well-recognizable spots. In addition to including many of the iconic lines at the resort, Thunder said she also wanted to celebrate the natural landscape and the timelessness of the mountain itself.
“I want everyone to see a bit of what they love in Big Sky in this poster,” she said. “It’s impossible to capture all of it because it's such a big place and so many people love it.”
To celebrate the artfulness of the poster as well as the history of poster design, Siberell shared the posters will be screen printed by artist Brian Geihl. They are available for purchase as souvenirs in Big Sky’s retail outlets.
Gabrielle Gasser is a writer and photographer who grew up in Big Sky, Montana and is currently based out of Bozeman. In the winter you'll find her ski instructing out on the slopes at Big Sky Resort or curled up with a good book.