HELENA, Mont., – As the 2018 Winter Games approach, there’s no better time to try winter’s fan favorite sports. In fact, a Pyeongchang-inspired getaway may be closer than you think. Montana is the perfect place to try your hand at a variety of winter sports, including snowboarding, freestyle skiing, cross-country skiing and more. From beginners to trained athletes, here are some of the best ways to feel like you’re going for a podium finish in Big Sky Country.
Relax in Whitefish
Renowned globally as a top ski town, Whitefish offers the experience of living like a 2018 winter competitor. Beautiful, rustic-style lodges, cozy coffee houses, local breweries and distilleries, unique shops, and exceptional dining are just a few of the highlights that can be enjoyed against the backdrop of snow blanketed peaks. Maggie Voisin, U.S. A. freestyle ski team member and Whitefishnative, recommends starting the day with the best breakfast in town at the local Swift Creeks Café. Spend the day on the mountain like Maggie, the trail, the ice, or just relaxing in town. After dinner, enjoy a cup of coffee or hot chocolate from Maggie’s favorite shop, Montana Coffee Traders, while strolling the festive streets with a view of Whitefish Mountain Resort’s slopes illuminated against the night sky.
Ski Jumping at Montana Snowbowl
If you’re a skier looking for adrenaline and radical jumps, Montana Snowbowl is the place. U.S.A.freestyle ski team member and Missoula native, Darian Stevens, credits Snowbowl with her first skiing experience and her most memorable powder moments. Located outside the university town of Missoula, Snowbowl is a winter enthusiasts dream. Those not daring enough to jump, enjoy the thrilling Snowbowl Cup Gelande Championship each February; where ski jumpers from across the country test their skills at jumps of up to 200-feet. To refuel after jumping, stop by The Last Run for Showdown’s renowned wood fired pizza; named “life changing” by Darian.
Cross-Country Skiing at Crosscut Mountain Sports Center
Cross-country skiing combines the perfect mix of scenic solitude and quick-paced action, which makes for the perfect winter activity. For an experience with a classic Montana view, head to Crosscut Mountain Sports Center. Located just 30-minutes from Bozeman, the Nordic Center offers more than 30 miles of perfectly groomed trails that match every skill level, from beginners to athletes-in-training. In fact, their recently appointed Executive Director, Lowell Bailey, is representing the U.S.A. in the Men’s Biathlon competition. Crosscut also hosted the U.S. Sit Ski Nationals; a qualifying event for disabled athletes hoping to compete in the 2018 Winter Games. The 533-acre property adjacent to Bridger Bowl Ski Area offers a true Montana outdoor experience year-round. While the pristine powder is a main draw, the views make any visit to Crosscut an unforgettable experience, as skiers glide along the trails in the shadow of the snow-capped mountain peaks. The center also offers snowshoeing trails and a biathlon range.
Freestyle Skiing at Big Sky
It’s hard not to feel like a winter games competitor when exploring the freestyle terrain at Big Sky Resort’s Terrain Parks. With eight parks to meet any skill level, skiers and riders can sharpen their skills or improve their style on features like jumps, rails, C-boxes and the impressive natural half pipe. Beyond gold medal freestyle and freeride terrain, you’ll find 5,850 skiable acres, a 4,350 vertical drop and stunning views; truly making this the “Biggest Skiing in America.” U.S.A. moguls ski team member and Montana native Brad Wilson lists Big Sky as home to some of his favorite runs. When asked to describe his most memorable moments on the slopes, Brad will say the powder moments at Big Skyare tough to beat. After the last lift, enjoy luxury accommodations and your choice of dining experiences in the charming community of Big Sky. For the ultimate comfort food on or off the slopes, Brad recommends dining at the Resort for a great sandwich and breathtaking view.
Snowboarding at Great Divide
Located on the Continental Divide in the small community of Marysville, just 35 miles northwest of Helena, Great Divide is the perfect place for snowboarders to try out their best tricks. Known as “Montana’s Terrain Park Place,” Great Divide offers six unique terrain parks ranging in difficulty and style, from quick turns among wooded runs to large jumps and rails. Beginners can practice their skills on a number of beginner slopes while seasoned snowboarders can test their skill on jumps, rails, and wall rides of the resort’s extreme course, Rodeo. This winter playground is the perfect spot to test and hone skills while feeling like you’re on your very own competing course. Its slopes have even hosted some of Montana’s athletic talent, and Darian remembers it as one of her memorable early career competition experiences.
Ice Skating or Hockey at Woodland Ice Center
While it isn’t her medal competitive sport, Maggie lists ice skating in Montana as her favorite winter activity off the slopes. So take her advice and practice your gold winning moves on the ice at the outdoor Woodland Ice Center in Kalispell. Skate the night away at this family-friendly spot, which is perfect for après nights. In addition to hosting a number of local hockey games, all are encouraged to lace up their skates and shoot a few pucks of their own. Skaters can do their best competitive impression as they glide across the ice under the bright Montana stars. This is an old-style skate experience and winter fun for the entire family.