BIG SKY – Montana State University freshman, Lone Peak High School graduate, and up-and-coming skier Maria Lovely spoke with Explore Big Sky about her development as a winter sports athlete and her hopes and ambitions for the future.
Explore Big Sky: When and where did you start skiing?
Maria Lovely: Everyone around me—parents, teachers, kids—were consumed by the sport of basketball, and I struggled with the fact that I wasn’t. My parents, on the other hand, were delighted to get off the bleachers and into the mountains—we always had so much fun at the rural school ski days which took place at Bridger and Red Lodge.
EBS: When did you move to Big Sky?
M.L.: We took the leap from McLeod, Montana, to Big Sky my freshman year of high school.
EBS: What do you like most about Lone Mountain? Any favorite runs?
M.L.: What don’t I like?! I’m blessed to call this mountain my home and humbled by it every day. I love the Headwaters!
EBS: When did you start competing in freeride events?
M.L.: I was 12 when I did my first freeride competition; it was the annual Headwaters Spring Runoff.
EBS: What are your goals for the 2018 winter season?
M.L.: I am going into this season with a focus of filming. As I build my resume, I hope to further my sponsorships and work my way onto an athlete team.
EBS: What do you consider your strengths as a freeride skier?
M.L.: Knowing it’s okay to say “no” when I’m not feeling it, but also knowing how fun it is when I do go big.
EBS: How do you train to be a freeride athlete both in season and offseason?
M.L.: Thankfully most of my hobbies are outdoor-oriented, so I am staying active in all four seasons. Along with that, I train at Epic Bzn gym where I am constantly making physical gains, acquiring new knowledge, and learning how to be more mindful in my athletic approach.
EBS: Who has helped you along the way to becoming an elite skier?
M.L.: I owe it all to my family. My dad is a remarkable coach; his skill and patience took me from first at the Headwaters Spring Runoff as a 12-year-old to third in North America by age 16. My siblings are constantly encouraging me to be my best (in all of life’s aspects) and my mom gives her everything to make our dreams possible.
Additionally, I have had the opportunity to ski and learn from amazing Big Sky locals who rip it up. I’ve been lucky to shoot and film with Ryan Turner, Chris Kamman, Ryan Day Thompson, Gabe Priestley and Colton Stiffler—all of whom have been instrumental in building my ski career.
EBS: Any advice for younger skiers who would want to follow in your ski tracks?
M.L.: You get [back] what you put out—the hard work is worth it. Be confident with your decisions. Appreciate it all—the good and the bad, because they both play a part in getting you to where you want to be.