By: Zoe Mavis
Big Sky has a reputation for challenging terrain. Lone Peak has an impressive presence, even from a distance. An assumption often made, mistakingly, is that expert terrain is all Big Sky has to offer. Big Sky has something to offer for all ability levels – and can be one of the best places to improve your skiing. Whether you are cruising groomers or getting after it in the trees, Big Sky has all the terrain you want, with the snow to make it fun.
Big Sky offers more than 2,300 acres of beginner and intermediate terrain – that’s about 40% of the entire mountain. With so many green and blue trails here, they provide incredible diversity for learning.
When first teaching someone how to ski, we ride the surface lifts (magic carpets for the layperson) on very mellow terrain. This means there is no need to ride a chairlift when you are first learning to stop on your own. Big Sky has some of the longest and widest green runs, allowing for multiple repetitions of a skill before you get to the bottom. I love teaching people on our iconic green run, Mr. K, for its amazing terrain, grooming, and views.
When you’re ready for the next level, utilizing groomed and un-groomed intermediate slopes allow skiers to work on skills needed for expert terrain without the consequences of heading there before feeling ready. My personal favorite run to work on my own skiing is Africa, a classic blue run off of the Ramcharger 8 chairlift with the perfect pitch to practicing skills.
Conditions can have a huge impact on the ski day. We’re pretty spoiled at Big Sky, with the most consistent snowfall in the Northern Rockies. On average, Big Sky sees about 400 inches of snow every year. With an inch or two falling every couple of days, the snow is always getting refreshed for new skiers. The handful of inches Big Sky receives weekly keeps the mountain fun and playful. This is especially helpful for anyone learning how to ski or working on improving their skills. Fresher snow is slightly softer and more forgiving, allowing skiers and riders to focus on learning new skills. Nothing beats the feeling of ripping under the chair on “hero snow” (snow that makes carving and turning feel effortless) and feeling confident in your abilities.
The Big Sky Mountain Sports School rivals any major ski school in the US. All of Big Sky’s instructors are certified through PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors of America), and more than 80% of the instructors return every year. These instructors love to ski and are passionate about sharing their love for Big Sky with others. The entire team prioritizes professional development, which means more effective teaching methods. These instructors are simply the best at helping you build the skills that could have you carving down the corduroy or smashing through some powder turns. Whether you are brand new to the sport or have been skiing for years, there are instructors here who can improve your abilities and become a friend along the way.
Zoe Mavis is in her ninth season as Mountain Sports instructor at Big Sky Resort. She is currently a trainer as well as an Alpine and Children’s Examiner for the Northern Rocky Mountain Division of PSIA. In the summer, Zoe guides multi-day rafting trips through some of the most beautiful places this country has to offer. Whether skiing or rafting, Zoe enjoys sharing her love of the outdoors with others.