Bozeman Women Hit The Slopes
Maisie Bissell | Wednesday Mar. 1st, 2023
With so many places to ski in the world, what is it that makes Bozeman so special? If you ask the locals here in Bozeman where they ski, there’s a 90% chance they’ll say Bridger Bowl. Established in the mid-1940s, it has grown more popular every year. One of the biggest groups of skiers that keep Bridger Bowl going are the students of Montana State University. The mountain is only 15 miles from campus, and even has a bus that takes you up for free! This is definitely a huge attraction in Bozeman, and also a big reason people choose to attend MSU.
Recently, I interviewed three women who are MSU students and avid skiers. They have had a passion for skiing most of their lives, and explained to me what it is they love about skiing here in Bozeman. Emily Jahnky is a sophomore at MSU, and works up at Bridger Bowl as a ski instructor; she enjoys backcountry skiing outside of work. Elena Silverman has skied all her life and competes in Freeride competitions in hopes of making it on the Freeride World Tour. Amelia DiGiano is a sophomore at MSU and enjoys skiing whenever she has the time!
All three women have been skiing since the time they could walk. Emily’s parents were great at planning family activities for her and her brother as they grew up in Wisconsin. The majority of her early skiing years were at a little hill called Nordic, in Wild Rose, WI.
“It only had two chair lifts, and 30 people would be there, max,” she remembers. “Nordic is a lot smaller than Bridger, and the terrain is very limited. There’s more of a wide variety of terrain at Bridger Bowl—I definitely would pick Bridger Bowl over Nordic.” When asked whether she prefers Bridger to Big Sky, the answer again is Bridger Bowl. “Bridger is just very convenient, and there’s never a bad day up there.”
The community at Bridger is one of Emily’s favorite things about skiing there. “Everyone there is positive, and the sense of community is unmatched. Being surrounded by amazing people really makes Bridger Bowl the mountain it is.”
Motivated by the satisfaction of being outside and enjoying the world around her, Emily balances school and skiing by always putting classes first. After all, MSU is what brought her here. “Even on a powder day, I fight the urge to go skiing. It’s not necessarily an escape for me; it’s more of an outlet in my life. It allows me to get away from the big things that may be happening.”
Emily has visited other resorts around the state, including Showdown, Whitefish, and Great Divide. “It’s always fun meeting new people, seeing different resorts with friends.” she says. ”Skiing alone is never a good/safe option, I prefer to ski with friends. More people are more fun, and it’s easier to explore new places. Being with people also pushes you to do crazy stuff.”
Last year, Emily gave snowboarding a try, and rates it as an experience. “I spent a lot of time on my butt and elbows. I’d try it again, but for the most part, it’s just not for me.”
From a small hill to big mountain skiing in Montana, Emily didn’t stop at a free ride up a chairlift—she has gotten into backcountry skiing as well. Now, it is actually her preferred method of skiing, offering a satisfaction no chair lift could. She intends to get more into backcountry skiing, push herself harder, and ski the Ridge more. One of her goals is to ski the Great One at Sacajawea Peak.
Elena Silverman grew up skiing at Squaw Valley in Tahoe, CA. Her parents not only met on a chairlift, they also got engaged on one, so there was no chance that Elena would not be a skier! Her father is her number one inspiration and supporter. “Without him, I wouldn’t be as good as I am today.”
Elena’s motivation for skiing comes from her love of the sport. She has found that skiing is a good way to release energy; it helps her focus on the present, and “it’s an amazing feeling being involved in something greater than yourself.” She has broken her collar bone and had partial frostbite due to skiing, but she won’t let that stop her from making the Freeride World Tour in the next few years.
“I try to balance school and skiing by incorporating my architecture work with the mountains, and taking fewer credits spring semester. Since I’m a competitive free skier, it can be hard to balance training with having fun. Skiing is definitely an escape for me!”
When given the choice to ski in-bounds at Bridger Bowl or the backcountry of SW Montana, Elena’s first choice is inbound skiing at Bridger, even compared to Big Sky. She finds that “the crowds are better and the terrain is excellent” at Bridger. Her favorite thing about Bridger Bowl? “The grind of hiking the ridge—everything feels so rewarding. I also like earning my turns.”
Elena has amazing friends to ski with in Bozeman, and she has traveled the state to ski Great Divide and Beartooth Basin. She has a particular goal to get her father to Bridger so she can be the one to show him around for once!
Amelia DiGiano is from Winter Park, CO, forever her favorite mountain, where her parents started her skiing as a toddler. She appreciates the inclusive nature of the sport and enjoys skiing with other women who motivate and build each other up rather than trying to one-up each other to be the best. Something she is working to relearn is how to be less competitive, and just have pure fun while skiing.
She balances school and skiing by creating gaps in her school schedule, and taking mornings off. The grind and silence of the backcountry and the untouched snow of the Crazies are what Amelia prefers; “Being alone in the woods is an excellent time to embrace the silence and appreciate the reward of working hard for your turns.”
If she had to choose, she’d pick Bridger over Big Sky for terrain, since the steep terrain at Bridger pushes her to be a better skier. Her favorite thing about Bridger is the lift rides, “because of the good conversations and sunbathing.”
So why is Bozeman, Montana such a great area for skiing? As these passionate, goal-driven women have shared, Bozeman has some amazing terrain, great communities, and opportunities for skiers of all levels. If you are more advanced, you can explore the Ridge at Bridger or the plentiful backcountry in Bozeman’s backyard; if you like to stay in bounds, Bridger offers some amazing runs all over the mountain!