Getting ready for a BSF winter.
In a mountain town, loving winter and skiing comes easily, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the faces of the 500-plus youth and adults who enjoy Nordic, freestyle, and alpine skiing with the Bridger Ski Foundation (BSF).
BSF’s offerings are varied, and it can be intimidating getting started. With its origins dating back to 1936, the nonprofit ski club is one of a few select Gold Clubs certified by the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association; but don’t let their world-class status fool you: everyone is welcome to join their programs and a code of fun and inclusion is central to their mission. Here’s the essential guide to BSF’s winter programs (they also have fall and summer offerings), most of which require registration well before the ski season gets underway.
Nordic skiing: for ages five and up. Options start at one day a week (after school or Saturdays) and go from there, starting with beginners and progressing to both developmental and competitive teams.
Combined Freestyle & Alpine Youth Ski League: If your little skier (ages 5+) can ride the lift, ski with poles, and ski mid-mountain at Bridger Bowl, then this is their next step. Choose from Saturday or Sunday programs (eight weeks) at Bridger and give them the chance to build on their fundamental skills and explore both alpine and freestyle in a fun setting.
Freestyle: Options range from one day a week to five, with a freestyle team (moguls) and a freeskiing team (terrain park), both developmental and competitive.
Alpine: Options range from one day a week to five, for ages eight and up, with both developmental and competitive teams.
Registration: Signup for winter programs begins each fall. Be sure to take advantage of informational meetings and parent liaisons, who can answer your questions from an experienced parent’s perspective.
Affordability: Skiing, and all the gear that goes with it, isn’t cheap. But at BSF, there’s a conviction that any child who wants to ski should be able to do so; fundraising subsidizes about 50% of the actual program costs. Fees are kept especially low for entry-level programs. As skiers get older and progress into skiing more days per week and competing, scholarships and financial aid become available.
Equipment: One pair of skis is all a kid needs in the early years—for Youth Ski League and often even beyond. And if, for instance, a child is ready to start learning XC skate-ski techniques, a pair of skate skis can be rented from BSF for $45 for the entire season. Your BSF membership gets you discounts at many local retailers, as well. Older BSF kids may need specific helmets and specialized skis, so consult with coaches and parents for guidance. Within BSF, families and athletes often trade and sell used gear before the annual Ski Swap fundraiser.
The Ski Swap
It’s been a Bozeman tradition since 1967 and turns the Fairgrounds into a massive ski warehouse with every kind of ski, boot, and accessory imaginable. Sell your old gear and find new-to-you skis. This year’s event takes place November 7-8. (If you’re selling equipment, drop it off on November 6.) Expert tip: buy a BSF membership for $25 and you’ll get in for free an hour before the Ski Swap opens to the public. For more information, visit bridgerskifoundation.org.
Jenny White is the communications, marketing, and outreach manager at the Bridger Ski Foundation.
Adults Can Play, Too
Bridger ski foundation isn't just for kids. There are plenty of options for the whole family.
Community Trails: BSF grooms a whole network of community ski trails in Bozeman for anyone to use. Buy a trail pass to help fund the effort.
Nordic for adults: A "masters" program offers several options for both recreational and competitive adult skiers, including beginning skate skiing and fall conditioning.
Alpine for adults: Ski the gates with BSF's masters program.
Volunteering opportunities: Last year, volunteers contributed nearly 6,000 hours to BSF. Sign up to help at one of their many events.