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No. There are a number of local races and travel races. You should just come to whichever you want. If you don’t want to do any competition but still come to all the trainings that is more than ok!

The travel races are in cool places, and a great way to bond with the team. It is a great way to have a fun weekend, even if you don’t want to raise the competitive level. That being said, if you are trying to race at a higher level, coming to the races is the best option.

Most days through the winter we will meet at the Nordic Bunker or Lone Mountain Ranch. It will change so it is important to check your email and TeamReach where there will always be updated information on when, where and what the practice is that day/week.

Download the TeamReach app and use the following codes to keep up-to-date:

  • Nordic Competition Team: compnordic
  • Nordic Development Team: devonordic
  • Nordic Club Team: nordic club

Skiing is expensive. Starting in the 2021-22 season, we’re investing in skis for juniors that can be rented for the season for $50. Please contact us at nordic@bssef.com if you are interested in renting a pair.

In addition, there will be a gear night and informal gear swap on Tuesday, December 14, 2021.

USSA age categories are generally in two year increments. For example, the U14 category includes athletes aged 12 and 13 as of December 31st of the current season.

If you are thinking of racing for points (U16 and older), you’ll need a USSA Competitor membership. If you are younger, you can get a general USSA membership.

Lars Ericson
Lars Ericson

Lars Ericson (1948-2018) was a long-time friend and supporter of the Big Sky Ski Education Foundation who volunteered countless hours on the mountain as a perpetual member of the race crew. The Lars Ericson Program Scholarship Fund was established in 2021 in remembrance.

Online registration is closed. Same-day registration is from 8:00 AM to 9:30 AM at the BSSEF Team Room.


To keep our events safe, we need volunteers to help make sure everyone is wearing masks or face coverings, are maintaining social distance, and are not congregating in the start or finish areas.

U.S. Ski & Snowboard Western Region race series and development projects are subject to quotas and selection criteria.

BSSEF makes arrangements to block rooms at out-of-area hotels on behalf of team members and their families. However, you are responsible for making your own hotel reservations.

Athletes can register for competitions using the U.S. Ski & Snowboard online athlete registration portal.

All athletes who wish to compete in a Northern Division Alpine race must be members of U.S. Ski & Snowboard.

This volunteer is responsible for keeping the grill going, serving hot dogs to spectators, and filling the generator with gas every two (2) hours.

The Northern Division of U.S. Ski & Snowboard is the definitive source of information for Alpine competitions. Check the Northern Division website first!

Difficult Outdoor ActivityRemain at the top of the venue for the duration of the competition and announce which athletes are starting to the judges and TD. This position can be shared by several people over the course of the day.

Moderate Outdoor ActivityBe at the top of each competition venue to help athletes get into their skis and boards; show athletes where the start will be for each venue; and point out the location of judges.

Easy Indoor RoleAssist the event TD with distributing radios to event and volunteer staff who require radio communication.

Moderate Outdoor ActivityThese volunteers assist athletes in getting their skis and boards loaded onto their backpacks before hiking to the competition venues. In general, help facilitate faster hiking.

Moderate Outdoor ActivityThe DJ must keep music age-appropriate and have enough music for 10 hours of play over two days of competition. You will be outside for the duration of the competition.

Difficult Outdoor ActivityThe Announcer must be knowledgeable about IFSA competitions as well as Obsidian and Zone Three features in the Headwaters area. You will be outside all day. Sponsors must be mentioned regularly.

Moderate Outdoor ActivitySki Ninjas must hike to the top of the venue and retrieve equipment for fallen athletes. This position could require up to three (3) hikes to Zone Three in the Headwaters on Finals day.

You can try ski racing on whatever you own now, but you will quickly want to be on real slalom or GS race skis with bindings that are appropriate for your weight and ability level in racing and training situations. Note all ski lengths below can be +/- 2cm.

Slalom Skis

  • Women: 155 cm
  • Men: 165 cm

Giant Slalom Skis

  • Women: 175-180 cm having a 19-25 m radius
  • Men: 175-185 cm having a 29-27 m radius

Ski Boots

Race models that have an appropriate flex for your weight, strength and ability level. No boots with “walk” modes.

Protective Gear

  • Slalom: a helmet with a chin guard, hand guards on slalom poles, and shin guards
  • GS: a hard-eared helmet


  • Back protector
  • Forearm guards
  • Speedsuit

Easy Outdoor ActivityThe outdoor contingent of the Scoring Team runs raw scores from the event’s Technical Delegate (“TD”) to the head of the indoor Scoring Team.

If you wish to compete regularly in U.S. Ski & Snowboard Masters races, you will need to obtain a masters license from U.S. Ski & Snowboard. There are two types of licenses or memberships: a basic masters license ($135 for 2020-21) and “masters with requirements” ($150).

If you wish to go to only one or two U.S. Ski & Snowboard masters races, you can purchase a “short term license” ($35 per day) for that event. New for 2020-21: a masters racer may purchase more than one short term membership but only at one multi-day event (excluding regional and national championships).

“With requirements” is for masters athletes who may be in private one-on-one situations with BSSEF’s minor-age athletes who are not your children. Those could include locker room interactions or if you were to give rides to a minor to or from the mountain. If you have any questions, please consult with BSSEF’s program director, Jeremy Ueland.

Once you have a masters license or short term license, you can enter any race you wish throughout the United States. All masters entries are made through skiracereg.com. We will plan a couple of optional road trips this winter as a group, or you can go on your own.

Joining the masters program will make you a better skier all over the mountain. That said, to get the most out of the program, you should ski at an upper-intermediate level or higher. If you can ski trails rated with blue squares at Big Sky, you can handle this program. We train primarily on Hangman’s.

Difficult Indoor ActivityThe indoor contingent of the Scoring Team works with the Head Scorekeeper. This is the most important volunteer role at the competition. This operation must run smoothly for the event to be successful.

As BSSEF has become active year-round, we’ve been compelled to push the Early Season pricing deadline earlier in the year for planning and cash flow purposes. However, we recognize that taking advantage of Early Season pricing – while beneficial – might cause a cash crunch for some families. So, we’re now offering installment payment options on a limited basis.

Here’s how installment plans work:

  • Choose the Partial.ly Payment Plan option at check out (currently available for order values of more than $1,000).
  • Select your down payment amount.
  • Select your payment frequency.
  • Your scheduled payments will be calculated based on the final due date of December 31, 2020.
  • Select your payment method (credit card, debit card, or bank account ACH).
  • Read the terms carefully.
  • “Sign” the payment contract electronically.
  • Click Process Down Payment.

Installment payment terms are subject to change.

For everyone’s safety, prospective first-year Freeride program participants must pass an on-mountain skills assessment before they will be allowed to join the Freeride team. The Freeride Head Coach will determine the sufficiency of an applicant’s skills at his or her sole discretion. Those athletes who aren’t yet ready for the Freeride program will be encouraged to participate in one of BSSEF’s Alpine programs (e.g. Youth Ski League or Buddy Werner) or Big Sky Resort’s Rippers program.

All Freeride program participants are required to have the following equipment:

  • A digital, two or three-antenna avalanche transceiver
  • An avalanche probe
  • A metal avalanche shovel
  • A sturdy and comfortable backpack with straps for attaching and carrying skis
  • Skis suitable for firm snow and gate training less than 75 millimeters underfoot with camber
  • Skis suitable for freeride training and competition no more than 108 millimeters underfoot with camber and, ideally, tip rocker
  • A skiing certified helmet
  • Properly fitting ski boots, preferably without walk mode,
  • and other equipment related to Alpine skiing (i.e. for U12s) including hard-ear helmets suitable for competition

Contact Jeremy Ueland at the team’s office in Big Sky to arrange for local pickup of your merchandise order.

We offer two shipping options: local pickup and flat rate. If you choose the flat rate option, we’ll send your order via USPS Priority mail.

At this time, we only ship to addresses in the United States. If you reside outside the U.S., would like to buy BSSEF merchandise, and are going to be in the Big Sky area, please contact us. We’d be happy to arrange for local pickup while you are here.

Contact Lisa Ballard for training details.

Beginning in the 2021-22 season, there is a new electronic “punch card” system.

Blue-SkiingMembers of the course crew report to the Chief of Course and are responsible for setting up, maintaining, and taking down the race course and related safety equipment.

Green-No SkiingThe Race Administration Assistant is primarily responsible for helping the Race Administrator photocopy and distribute race documents including start lists and race results.

Green-SkiingThis volunteer performs two functions. The first is to pick up sack lunches from the designated caterer by 8:00 AM on race day and distributing the lunches to race volunteers on the mountain no later than immediately after the completion of the first set of runs for the day. The second function is to collect race bibs from competitors after the final run each day, sort the bibs in ascending order, and notifying the Race Administrator of any missing bibs.

Green-Skiing-No-SkiingMost races are on Hangman’s, which requires ski or snowboard access. On occasion, the finish is at the base of the Ramcharger chairlift. When that’s the case, the scoreboard is accessible by hiking. Check with the volunteer coordinator before volunteering.

The Scoreboard Recorder copies down times from the electronic scoreboard at the finish and relays times to the Scoreboard Poster. The Scoreboard Poster writes the times on the laminated plastic scoreboard. The Scoreboard Reporter and Poster and jointly responsible for a) cleaning the scoreboards and b) pre-populating each scoreboard with the names of the competitors prior to each race.

Green-SkiingThe Assistant Starter (also known as the Wrangler) is responsible for calling the competitors to the start in their correct order. In addition, the Assistant Starter will help the Starter and Start Referee setup and control the start area as directed.

Black-SkiingThe Starter is responsible for issuing the start command to competitors as well as for the accuracy of the intervals between these signals. The Starter coordinates with the Chief of Timing to synchronize the timing equipment prior to each run. Technically, the Starter role doesn’t require specialist certification. However, the role is best suited for someone with a substantial amount of race experience.

Green-Skiing-No-SkiingThe Start Hand Timer must always be able to ski or snowboard. In those rare occasions when the finish is at the base, it’s possible for the Finish Hand Timer to hike to position. Check with the volunteer coordinator.

Hand Timers should be in position at the start or finish of the race course at least 30 minutes prior to the start of each race. The Start and Finish Referees will have the respective Hand Timer’s document packets and stopwatches. Document packages and watches are to be returned to race headquarters in the Mammoth Room at the end of each day.

Watch A Hand Timer’s Introduction to the Stopwatch

Green-SkiingGate Judges should meet the Chief Gate Judge no later than 45 minutes prior to the start of the first race. The Chief Gate Judge will provide clipboards and document packages and will assign your position on the race course. The Chief Gate Judge or Assistant Chief Gate Judge will collect your Gate Judge cards between runs. At the end of the day, return your document packages to race headquarters, which is usually located in the Mammoth Room on the second floor of the Mountain Mall.

Each gate judge who has recorded a disqualifying fault or who has been witness to an incident leading to a re-run must be available to the Jury until after the settlement of any protests. It is the responsibility of the Technical Delegate to dismiss a gate judge who is waiting to be called by the Jury. (ACR 666)

Green-SkiingThe Assistant Chief Gate Judge is responsible for numbering the turning pole of each gate on the course prior to each run, acting as an alternate Gate Judge when required, and assisting the Chief Gate Judge as otherwise required.

Blue-SkiingThe Chief Gate Judge’s responsibilities include making sure all Gate Judges are adequately supplied with pencils, gate cards, bibs, and clipboards; positioning the Gate Judges on the course well in advance of the start of each race; collecting all Gate Judge cards at the end of each run and delivering them to the Referee.

U.S. Ski & Snowboard points – like a golf handicap – are a measure of relative performance over time. The better one’s performance in ski races, the lower one’s points. Low points translate into preferred start numbers and improved chances to be selected for elite competitions and regional and national championships.

No. Out-of-town races are time-consuming, expensive, and can distract from school and other commitments. You should not feel as if your athlete and family need to commit to every competition on the schedule. Even for highly engaged athletes, it’s possible to place too much emphasis on competitions.

That said, competitions are an integral part of the BSSEF experience, and they are a lot of fun. Not only does the experience of traveling to, and participating in, out-of-town races foster friendships among the kids, it does so for parents, too.

Race registration for nearly all Northern Division races utilizes the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Online Athlete Registration system. The team will send you a bill for your share of coaching fees (for out-of-town races).

A hard-ear race helmet, a pair of four-buckle boots that fit well and aren’t too stiff, and a single pair of multi-event race skis are initially sufficient. Is a speed suit a necessity for your 8-year-old?  Not really…but she will probably want one after she competes in her first few races. The bad news is that kids grow out of speed suits almost instantly. The good news is that there is, as a consequence, a thriving second-hand market. See the equipment page for more information.

The race organizing committee for each ski race must submit a race announcement to U.S. Ski & Snowboard several weeks before the event. The race announcement contains basic information such as location, schedule, and cost. When they are made available, the Northern Division will post them on its race calendar web page.

There are a number of resources related to Alpine and Freeride competitions:

  • Start with the events calendar. We do our best to keep information on the event pages up-to-date, relevant, and complete.
  • The definitive source of information for Northern Division Alpine races is the Northern Division website. The race calendar there includes links to race announcements and results.
  • The IFSA website includes information regarding Junior Freeskiing competitions.
  • During the course of a competition, coaches will send updates and communicate with parents and athletes via the TeamReach mobile app.
  • Check the hotel reservation page for information about accommodations for out-of-area races.
  • Subscribe to email notifications.
  • “Like” the team’s Facebook page.

All athletes who wish to compete in a U.S. Ski & Snowboard-sanctioned Alpine ski race must be an active member. At this time, Freeride competitions are organized by a different sanctioning body (IFSA).

U.S. Ski & Snowboard (formerly known as USSA) is the national governing body of Olympic skiing and snowboarding. It is the parent organization of the U.S. Ski Team. BSSEF is a member of the Northern Division, which, in turn, is part of the Western Region. The Alpine ski races in which our athletes participate are sanctioned by and organized under the rules of U.S. Ski & Snowboard.

With appropriate clothing, kids can ski and train in below zero weather. Sometimes, however, the start of training will be delayed in order to allow the temperature to rise a bit. In all cases, coaches will bring kids into the lodge for warm-ups as necessary. As always, check the TeamReach app for the latest updates regarding training.

The team typically eats lunch between 11:30 AM and 12:30 PM. Timing can be a bit flexible, depending on conditions and the day’s training agenda. Coaches accompany the athletes, but athletes are responsible for getting their own lunches. Athletes will have lunch in the BSSEF Team Room.

The team’s meeting place is directly below the Summit Hotel clock tower. Athletes should be ready to go at 8:45 AM in order to board the lift promptly at 9:00 AM.

The head coaches of each program are responsible for posting and updating training schedules to each program’s respective TeamReach group.

Subscribe to our email newsletter using the following form. In addition, The team’s Facebook page is a place to share informal information such as photos. Check the events calendar frequently, and download and install the TeamReach mobile app for up-to-the-minute training information.

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We feel your pain. We’re helped immensely by our sponsors, and we do our best to keep our overhead low in order to keep program prices in check. Nevertheless, program fees, equipment, and travel conspire to make skiing and ski racing expensive.

To make it less so, take advantage of early season program pricing and multi-program purchase discounts. Installment payment plans may be available on certain transactions.

Purchase used equipment via Montana Ski Racing Classified on Facebook and area ski swaps. (Bridger Ski Foundation hosts a great swap every Fall in Bozeman.) Last, but not least, make an application for a scholarship.

The age classifications for the 2021-22 ski season are as follows:

Age ClassAges as of 12/31/21Birth Year
U87 and younger2014 and later
U108 and 92012 or 2013
U1210 and 112010 or 2011
U1412 and 132008 or 2009
U1614 and 152006 or 2007
U1916 - 182003, 2004 or 2005
U2119 and 202001 or 2002
SR21 and older2000 or earlier

BSSEF’s programs – Alpine and Freeride – incorporate sanctioned competitions; Big Sky Resort’s youth programs do not. The resort offers several instructional programs for area athletes aged 7 to 15. For purposes of comparison, the most relevant of the resort’s Youth Local Programs are Wolverines and Big Sky Rippers:

  • The Wolverines program (ages 7-14) is similar to BSSEF’s Youth Ski League programs.
  • The resort’s Rippers program is most comparable to BSSEF’s Buddy Werner or Freeride programs and emphasizes advanced terrain.

The Covid-19 refund policy for the 2020-21 season can be found here.