Skin in the Game

Bridger Bowl's flagship uphill race.

If you’ve never heard of skimo racing, you’re not alone. Short for “ski mountaineering,” skimo is an event where competitors on skis race uphill, then down, and up again for hours on end. It’s gaining national popularity alongside all other types of outdoor suffer-fests. But did you know that our local mountain has its very own skimo race?

In February, Bridger Bowl will host the 16th annual Skin to Win Randonnee Rally. Although Skin to Win is still in its teenaged years, participation has risen from about 30 in the first year to over 70 last year. According to Bridger Bowl’s events coordinator, Chad “Bucky” Buckridge, that increase is expected to continue. This is one of Bridger’s few events where they see competitors from out of town coming to race, but they don’t market to that audience. “For us, these events are all about the community and giving locals a chance to compete,” Bucky says.

If you’re unsure of your skills, fear not—the competition is split into four divisions by gender and ability. The pro-division course stretches 7.3 miles with over 5,000 vertical feet of climbing, while the recreational division runs a shorter 4.9-mile, 2,500-vertical-foot course to make it more accessible for Bozeman’s weekend warriors. Both courses traverse much of Bridger’s famous ridgeline, and the pro course includes downhill sections on classic ridge terrain such as Hidden Gully, the Apron, and the Nose. Top finishers in the pro division walk away with cash prizes up to $500, while those on the rec-division podium will take home some impressive gear offerings.

Competitors say they appreciate the fun nature of the event and the course’s inclusion of enjoyable downhill ski lines, and that it’s a great tour of the ski area. Plus, race entry includes lift access for the remainder of the day, allowing for a relaxing ski outing after the races conclude. There are also benefits to skimo racing that can translate to everyday skiing outside of the race, including faster transitions in the backcountry and more efficient skinning technique, not to mention improved fitness. If you have a competitive side and you’re into new experiences, give it a try—you just may find your new favorite race.

Skin to Win Randonnee Rally 

(Avg: 55)


Elevation Gain 2022 Winners

2022: 70

Pro: 7.3 miles Pro: 5,060 feet Men’s Pro: Andrew Meyer, 1:59
Women’s Pro: Emmiliese Von Avis, 2:32

Cap: 100

Rec: 4.9 miles

Rec: 2,500 feet Men’s Rec: Max Danger Littlefield, 1:13
Women’s Rec: Kelly Hayden, 1:42