For the Love of Skiing

A casual return to racing at Bridger.

Ski racing is a tough sport—not one for the faint-hearted. It’s demanding, both mentally and physically, and exhilarating at the same time. You’re up against 4:30am wakeup calls, hard-ass coaches, and a skin-tight body suit—a battle in its own right. Injuries are inevitable, emotional breakdowns are weekly, and frost-bitten toes are unavoidable. It’s hard to fathom why we keep at it day after day, year after year, through all the frustrations. Maybe it’s the invigorating freedom you find when you’re clocked at 70mph on a downhill course, maybe it’s the sweet sound of slapping plastic in a slalom, or maybe it’s the wind in your face as you arc the perfect turn around a GS gate. 

Since the age of seven, this was my life. When I moved to Bozeman for my freshman year at MSU, I said goodbye to the race circuit and hello to the renowned Ridge and all it has to offer. After my first day of Bridger Bowl slidin’, I found an opportunity to become a skier, not just a racer. I haven’t gone near a GS course in three years, and I never thought my return would come so soon, let alone at Bridger Bowl: a hub for the world’s finest racers. But there I stood, at the top of the Alpine lift, waiting for my turn in the esteemed Bridger Bowl Community Dual GS.

The race was very lax, with time for a long inspection at our leisure. There were no start lists, no bibs, and thankfully, no speed-suits. It was a rather short course, between 30 and 40 seconds, a relief compared to the two-minute downhills of my past. This race brought me back to the days of endless GS laps on the training courses with my teammates. I rediscovered the thrill of racing—testing my limits to cross the finish line as swiftly as possible. I didn’t have race skis on my feet, but it was enough to feel the arc from gate to gate.

Once the day was over, and awards came around, I observed my competition. It was full of families and friends doing it for their love of skiing. It wasn’t about the race itself, it was about getting outside and embracing a beautiful day on the slopes with the people you love. It was a chance for Bozeman’s cold-smokers to find their speed and battle for the gold. A time to shred with the ones you care about. Racing and yet not racing at all… how cool is that?