It’s not every day you get to ski with the queen.
Even more rare is when the queen holds your skis while you wait to load the tram or gives you first tracks down the Big Couloir. In Big Sky, the queen is generous- the Dirtbag Queen, that is. Her Majesty Monica Thomas did all of those things for me last Saturday.
Thomas is part of a prestigious lineage of Dirtbag royalty dating back to 1979, when ski patrol hosted the first annual Dirtbag Ball to raise funds for rescue equipment. They voted on a king and queen via secret ceremony, crowning the most diehard local skiers.
Thomas grew up on a ranch in Wisdom, Montana, and spends her summers fighting fire for the Forest Service so she can ski full time all winter. As Queen, she says she wants to encourage locals to be gracious hosts and to spread the stoke. Case in point: She orchestrated a mountain clean up earlier this winter and makes an effort to be friendly to anyone she sees out on the mountain.
And of course, she skis a lot. Every day, to be exact.
Why does she love Big Sky? “I would say it has to be the locals and that awesome high alpine,” Thomas said.
The 2018 Dirtbag Ball was March 24, complete with the traditional costume parade, a Powder 8’s competition, and the evening ball. All of the funds raised go to help pay for continuing education classes for ski patrol.
Although new royalty were anointed, the title of Dirtbag Queen lasts a life time. Forever, Monica will be queen.
-Emily Stifler Wolfe
Emily Stifler Wolfe is a freelance writer based in Bozeman and a former ski patroller in Big Sky.