Best of the West skijoring catches fire
By Tucker Harris EBS STAFF
Winter Fest is an Outlaw Partners event. Outlaw Partners publishes Explore Big Sky.
BIG SKY – Phoebe Alverson gracefully swings around the turn feature on her skis, pulled by her older sister Fiona on horseback during the “switcheroo” segment of Big Sky Skijoring. It’s called “switcheroo” because Phoebe rode the horse on Day 1 pulling Fiona on skis.
At just 14, Phoebe is one of the youngest competitors at the Best of the West competition, the featured event of the inaugural Winter Fest in Big Sky. The Alverson sisters would go on to win third place overall for the weekend in the women’s division and place fifth place in the switcheroo division.
After bracing bitter cold winds on Saturday, the sun came out for a few hours keeping the spectators warm and rowdy on Sunday afternoon. Skier, horse and rider trios were seeking both redemption and speed to close out the second day of competition and clinch their respective division victories.
Phoebe, Fiona and father Dennis competed in Big Sky this weekend across multiple divisions: women’s, sport, switcheroo, snowboard and open classes. They travel to Boulder, Montana next weekend as the skijoring tour continues.
But the Alversons love coming to Big Sky.
“[Big Sky’s event] is really well put together, and I love the course too.” Phoebe said. “This event usually has more spectators than others, too.”
And the carefully curated track complete with berms and jumps also allowed skijoring viewers an intimate view of the competitors.
“This course is definitely spectator-friendly,” Dennis said.
Day two featured a special guest to welcome the final Open Class division: Olympic and World Champion gold medalist Bode Miller rigged himself up on skis behind a large draft horse from Lone Mountain Ranch to give his best shot at skijoring for the first time. The crowd gave him some hometown love as he successfully maneuvered the course.
The Open Class competitors came to play. Two-time National Champion and one of the event organizers, Colin Cook, literally turned up the heat up by igniting a flame under one of the larger course features. Open division skiers flew over the flame as they rounded the turn in front of VIP section spectators. The crowd went wild, ringing their cowbells and cheering the top competitors on as they closed out the event in Big Sky.
The awards ceremony at Tips Up saw cash prizes for both day winners and the overall champions. The overall winners received belt buckles in addition to cash. Rider Sarah McConnell and Skier Tyler Smedsrud teamed up with their horse Derby to bring home the winning open division prize of more than $2,500.
Event organizer Justa Adams gave a nod to organizers Lone Mountain Ranch and Outlaw Partners, publisher of EBS newspaper, for their efforts.
“Outlaw was huge,” Adams said at the awards ceremony. “They took it to the next level. Colin and Patrick [with LMR] spent innumerable hours in the dark … creating the perfect course.”
Adams closed out the night with an appreciation for the crowds that showed up for the mid-winter weekend events. “Thank you to all of you for coming and spending the weekend with us,” she said. “We appreciate all of you.”
|1||Sarah McConnell, Tyler Smedsrud|
|2||Richard Weber, Colin Cook|
|3||Richard Weber, Lang Schuler|
|1||Cal Douglas, Ed Anderson|
|2||Trae McInroe, Tara Hines|
|3||Dennis Alverson, Nick Becker|
|PLACE||RIDER / SKIER|
|1||Richard Weber, Kalei Pitcher|
|2||Monica Plecker, Kalei Pitcher|
|3||Jennifer Butler, Kalei Pitcher|
|1||Melissa Ostrander, Tara Hines|
|2||Sarah McConnell, Tara Hines|
|3||Fiona Alverson, Phoebe Alverson|
|1||Aaron Griffin, Nick Bentley|
|2||Tyler Smedsrud, Nick Bentley|
|3||Dennis Alverson, Aaron Griffin|
|1||Matty Kirkland, Drew Vanyo|
|2||Kristyn MacDonald, Dan Marion|
|3||Caileen Boisvert, Kayla Seaman|
|1||Makenze Woodring, Dayne Free|
|2||Makenze Woodring, Trippe Tubbs|
|3||Anna Putnam, Carolme Putnam|