Outdoors

Events and Competitions Stacking Up on Big Mountain

Banked slalom series the latest on Whitefish Mountain Resort’s roster of races

There’s a loaded roster of banked slalom races, competitions, events, and activities slated at Whitefish Mountain Resort on Big Mountain in the coming months, including a new banked slalom series, Wednesday Night Race League and, of course, classic night skiing.

These events and races give skiers and riders an opportunity to push themselves and meet their goals on the mountain while maintaining an air of inclusivity and laidback-ness. They’re open to all skill levels.

Here’s a look at some of the can’t-miss fun coming up in 2019.

The Biggie Banked Slalom Series

New this year, the Biggie Banked Slalom Series adds three new races to an already stacked schedule.

Banked slalom events are an awesome time for skiers and riders to test their skills on hand-built courses, no two of which are ever identical.

“We are stoked to offer more banked slalom races than ever before with the addition of the Biggie Banked Slalom Series,” says Josh Knight, events and terrain park manager at Whitefish Mountain Resort. “This is our entry-level banked slalom race series, with courses and races designed for a wide variety of ages and abilities. There will be a more manageable course for our younger riders, as well as challenging features and lines for other skier and riders.”

Races are scheduled for: Saturday, Feb. 2; Sunday, Feb. 24; and Sunday, March 10. For more event information, visit skiwhitefish.com.

2019 Whitefish Banked Slalom

This banked slalom on Jan. 19 is open to skiers and snowboarders. The course runs through the lower part of the Goat Haunt run into the harried gauntlet of George’s Gorge, a natural ravine with steep sidewalls and enhanced features.

Skiers and snowboarders are allowed to compete in separate divisions, with each racer taking two timed runs, with the best run serving as their official time.

The Gorge will be closed a few days prior to the event to allow organizers to build the course. Don’t poach the course during closures, as Whitefish Mountain Resort will have staff on handmaking it rad.

Pre-registration for this event is mandatory. The cost is $20, and discounted lift tickets are available to non-season pass holders.

20th Annual Nate Chute Classic

The Nate Chute Classic banked slalom and boardercross is the second-longest running snowboard banked slalom in the nation, and the third-longest in North America.

Most importantly, the biggest snowboarding contest in Montana is also the most socially significant as riders converge on Big Mountain every year to honor their fallen friends, competing in the spirit of raising awareness for suicide prevention. It’s a “Contest for a Cause” — the event is a supreme supporter of suicide prevention and awareness among young people in Montana.

Entering its 20th consecutive year, the annual Nate Chute Classic, held this year March 16-17, is a banked slalom and boardercross event named after Nate Chute, a well-known Whitefish local who took his own life after graduating from high school in 1999. His sudden, tragic death rocked the community and served as a gut-wrenching reminder of an epidemic plaguing Montana, a state that consistently ranks in the top five nationwide for suicide rates.

The cash purse for the event is $4,000, and all proceeds help to raise money for a great cause. The overall winners of the Open Men’s and Open Women’s divisions earn an entry to next year’s Mt. Baker Legendary Banked Slalom.

Wednesday Night Race League and Skimo Race League

Skimo race league is a low-key racing environment based more on having fun and less about glory. Skimo, or ski mountaineering, allows racers to skin up the course and ski down.

The series of weekly races runs for five weeks, from Jan. 9-Feb. 6. All races are from 6-7:30 p.m. to allow folks to wrap up the work day and head to the mountain.

For traditional alpine ski racers, the Wednesday Night Race League also offers a giant slalom race, with two courses consisting of 13 giant slalom gates. Racing begins at 7 p.m., with awards at the Bierstube at 8:15 p.m.

Alpine skiers, telemarkers and snowboarders compete in separate divisions.

Whitefish Whiteout

The Whitefish Whiteout is a mountaineering race, where competitors skin and bootpack up a variety of terrain, then remove their skins and descend challenging terrain.

This year’s race takes place Feb. 9. The course will take competitors on an up-and-down route throughout the resort and consists of eight stages for the Long Course, three stages for the Short Course and an Ascent-Only category. The Whitefish Whiteout is open to a variety of ability levels. Some racers compete with times that can exceed three hours for the Long Course, or some are fast enough to climb to the summit in a mere 24 minutes, 52 seconds (this was the 2017 record by Mike Foote, besting the previous best ascent to the summit by 1 minute, 24 seconds).

The Whiteout is open to AT/touring skiers, telemark skiers and splitboarders, with a men’s and women’s category in each.

Night Skiing

Ski under the lights on Chairs 2, 3 and 6, including the Fishbowl Terrain Park.

It’s a little known secret, but when those late-day storms sock the resort in, the night riding is all time. Whether you’re riding untracked powder after most of the lifts have closed, or lapping the terrain park with your friends, night skiing is an adventure for all ages.

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