By Scottie Williams Explore Big Sky Contributor
You see him four days a week. He loads you into the tram car and greets you at the peak, letting you know what terrain you can ski for the day. He harnesses himself off the top tram house and hangs on the face of Lone Mountain, shoveling heavy snow out of the tram dock on powder days so you can enjoy Big Sky’s best face shots.
And when Chance Lenay isn’t at work, he’s shredding the snow off of Lone Mountain harder than almost anyone. Coming from Gig Harbor, Wash., he was no stranger to riding steep and deep terrain when he arrived in Big Sky seven years ago.
Lenay began snowboarding competitively in 2010, riding in the Headwaters Spring Runoff here in Big Sky and then on the North Face Masters tour. Now, Lenay is fighting his way through the qualifier tour on the Subaru Freeride Series, trying to earn a spot among the best snowboarders of the world on the Swatch Freeride World Tour.
Lenay remembers his first competition in the 2010 Headwaters Spring Runoff vividly. Standing atop terrain he had been riding for years, he was nervous and even a bit scared. But from the moment he dropped into his first competition line, Lenay caught the competitive freeriding bug. After finishing in second place behind Tim Cowie, he was hooked, and went on to win the Runoff two years later in 2012.
Lenay is competing in all four Subaru stops this season. After a 17th place finish in Crested Butte at the first stop this year, he had time to prepare for a three-week run from Telluride, Colo., to Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows, Calif., and then back home to the North American finals in Big Sky, April 3 – 5.
Lenay says he’s been training hard since returning from Crested Butte. “[I] get up early and ride hard every day,” he explains.
As a tram operator, he’s able to ride the first lap of the day after ski patrol is done with their morning work.
That first run in Chrons or the Big Couloir is the best training he could have, he says, knowing that hundreds of eyes are on him on a busy morning. Talk about pressure.
“Riding everything fluid and being comfortable,” is how Lenay describes his current preparation and focus for the upcoming competition stops. He knows that riding a unique line and making it look good is exactly what the judges want.
We wish him luck in the coming weeks. Come on out to the Big Sky Subaru Freeride Series stop in April to cheer on Lenay and the other Big Sky locals who will be competing.
Scottie Williams is a Montana native and Big Sky local also competing on the Subaru Freeride Series tour.