By Emily Stifler Explorebigsky.com Managing Editor
BIG SKY – When Big Sky Resort General Manager Taylor Middleton was featured in the Wall Street Journal on Jan. 15, his email and phone were blowing up all day, with friends from around the country calling to give him a hard time.
The Jan. 15 article titled “The Push for Weekend ‘Epics’ on the mountain” detailed the 55-year-old Middleton’s athletic pursuits, which include kite skiing, unicycling and massive mountain bike rides accomplished with a group of “adventure buddies,” as well as his mostly vegetarian diet and his penchant for espresso.
In 2010, Middleton skied every day – alpine or nordic – for the months of January through March. Sometimes that meant putting on a headlamp and going out skate skiing at night.
How does one manage a ski resort, a family and still making time to go skiing?
“Easily,” Middleton says. “I get paid to ski, which I love.”
His wife, Barbara Rowley, says that while they don’t always have a family dinner, a day rarely goes by when they don’t have a family walk – these may be photo expeditions or monitoring bluebird boxes, fossil hunting or berry picking. Unicycling was something they all learned together, and kite surfing, Rowley says, is the next family sport.
“Taylor looks for ways to be outdoors and moving with us all year, really.”
The couple’s weekly ski dates have morphed into family ski days, Rowley says, “So that’s been a way he can work/play and be with family all at the same time.”
The plant-based diet Middleton credits to his wife and two daughters, strict vegetarians. For the weekend ‘epics’, Middleton thanks his friends.
“When I’m skiing or biking with my group of buddies, male and female, they’re gracious enough to allow me to bring up the end of their pack. There are so many strong people that do this stuff every day.”
And Middleton’s adventure buddies say the article’s author, Jen Murphy, nailed it.
“He’s always the motivator,” says 37-year-old Victor DeLeo, a senior sales manager who has worked at Big Sky Resort for 13 years and describes Middleton as a personal and professional mentor. DeLeo says there’s a running joke among the adventure group:
“If Taylor Middleton asks you to go on a bike ride, be sure to take a headlamp. On so many of his bike rides he pushes the limit.”
Middleton, who describes himself as publicity-shy, says the lifestyle described in the piece might be exceptional to someone living in “most of America, but here in Big Sky and in many Rocky Mountain towns there are hundreds of people that live the same kind of lifestyle.”
Either way, it speaks volumes when employees can’t wait to spend the weekend bludgeoning themselves with their boss on a 50-mile mountain bike ride.
For Big Sky Marketing Director Lindsey Owens, “going on an ‘epic’ with Taylor is the highlight to my summer.”
Rowley says Middleton makes it work, because “he truly loves every part of his life. He loves his job, he loves being outdoors and exercising, he loves hanging with [family].”