Save Your Skis!

No pair of devoted, loyal skis should ever be left to rot in the garage—no matter how unshaped, heavy, geriatric, or neon. Fortunately, there are more than a few ways to reincarnate your skis and give them a useful second life, long after even their rock-hopping days are over. In Bozeman, stories of skis and snowboards in happy retirement abound.

Take Mel Koontze's coat rack, for instance. Koontze clung for years to the first pair of skis her dad bought her when she was 10, as well as the ones that wrecked her knee later at Big Sky. Then Koontze, who owns Li'l Sherpa Java, decided to combine them both into a coat rack for the coffee shop, with the bindings serving as extra hooks. “They add a little funk to the store,” she says.

She's not the only Bozeman business owner with repurposed ski cred. Tucked in the corner of the Main Street Gym sits a regal Adirondack chair, built from the vintage skis of owner (and also world-record gondolee ski jumper) Rolf Wilson. According to employee Misty McSpadden, “I think his wife just got tired of all those skis in the house.”

That was certainly true for Jared Nelson's wife, Anna. As former racers, the Northside couple's basement overflowed with old skinny skis. Their solution: turn the worst of them into a gate to the backyard. Jared immortalized his favorite pair of skis—the first skis he ever received as a sponsored skier—with center billing on the gate.

As for Hans Lundgren, he built a whole fence, visible along Peach Street at Church. The fence went up in '91 and took on a life of its own, as friends and strangers brought him skis to add, and hard-up skiers “borrowed” pairs. “They're all bolted down,” laughs Lundgren. “I figure if someone goes to the trouble, they need them more than I do.” Five years ago, he decided the fence was full, and he is no longer adding to it (so please don't bring him donations!).

The offices of Bomb Snow magazine on Broadway sport their own ski fence of sorts, too, complete with an old chairlift looming over the front door. “It welcomes skiers and snowboarders,” says Todd Heath, chief motivator of the magazine. “If you're in a ski town, you get it. Most of these boards and decks had their glory days at Bridger Bowl, so it's a local thing.”

And as for local things, there's one that's fairly ubiquitous in our college town: the shot ski. That's a skinny-ski reincarnation that even non-skiers can fully appreciate.