This video was produced in partnership with Visit Montana.
In the final episode of “The Montana Way,” professional skier Amie Engerbretson caps off her journey across Montana’s Powder Highway by making one last stop to the town of Whitefish, home to the Whitefish Mountain Resort. After visiting Lost Trail Powder Mountain and Missoula, Whitefish was the perfect way to cap off her journey, as her arrival was met with an incoming storm and epic conditions.
“The terrain up at Whitefish is amazing,” says Engerbretson. “There’s something new to discover around every corner. Every little ridgeway leads to another fun area.”
From the top of the mountain, Engerbretson took in breathtaking views of Glacier National Park and the Canadian Rockies. Then she linked up with a couple of long-time Whitefish local skiers, Al Beougher and Rick Gardner. Both in their seventies, these two guys epitomize Whitefish’s skiing spirit.
“At our age, [skiing] is the closest thing that I do that makes me feel young again,” says Gardner. “I can remember these feelings when I was 25 years old, and I still get those feelings.”
And although they do love their time on the mountain, they also appreciate a good après beer at the end of the day — something Whitefish knows a thing or two about.
The crew then explored the colorful nightlife of the quaint downtown area. With several fine restaurants right in town, you can find everything from high-end steaks to mouth-watering sushi, and then wash it all down at one of the many watering holes nearby. The nightlife in Whitefish is lively and special, and the local flavor has everything to do with that.
It’s the people that make this ski town what it is, and the local pride is palpable.
“The Powder Highway of Montana is a new experience for me,” Engerbretson explains. “Being able to get on one road and have this perfect road trip laid out for you, you get a taste of all different parts of Montana ski culture … I can’t wait to come back.”
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There are times when we can benefit from some extra help, especially as we age or develop chronic medical conditions.
Nick Manley, a remarkable athlete with a degenerative neurological condition, swears by the Ski-Mojo knee bracing system. The product’s shock absorbing springs reduce the load on his knees, allowing him to continue to race and ski for the entire day without tiring.
I haven’t used it, but I have talked with Nick and at least a dozen other older skiers who tell me that it has made a profound difference in their skiing experiences. Ski-Mojo also helps maintain correct posture while skiing and makes it easier to ski longer.
If you feel you could benefit from some assistance, my strong suggestion is to visit Ski-Mojo’s site.
Now, on a limited basis, there’s another innovative approach to helping your knees. I wrote briefly about it a few months ago, when the company started advertising. The product, being developed by Roam Robotics, is called Elevate. It is a computer-influenced soft exoskeleton that utilizes pneumatics to assist movement in your legs and knees.
It may sound sci-fi, but it’s for real. Starting March 9, the company is making Elevate available on a unique demo basis in three locations: two in Lake Tahoe; one in Park City.
Rent the device, and Roam will arrange for one of its trained ski hosts to accompany you for a few runs or for the entire day, based on your preference. If you’re staying within a certain radius of their facilities, the company will deliver the device to you the night before and provide enough orientation so you’ll be good to go the next morning when you meet your ski host on the hill.
If this sounds a little protective, it is. As a product, Elevate is ready for prime time, but the concept is so new that the company wants to provide hands-on education about its use. It also wants to collect information about customers’ experience to improve future versions. All of this is to assure a smooth roll-out when it ramps up production and makes Elevate available more broadly in seasons to come.
The cost for a one-day demo is $109, which includes drop-off and ski host services. If you are in the Tahoe or Park City neighborhoods and want to try an entirely different approach to protecting your knees and getting more out of your ski day, this is your opportunity. To reserve a demo, click here.
I need a knee replacement. Is there one implant (Zimmer, Depuy, Stryker, etc.) that is better for returning to skiing?
Here’s the reply from Dr. Peter Schmaus, Orthopedic Spine and Sports, Paramus, NJ:
Thank you for that interesting and timely question. There are nearly 700,000 knee replacements done in the United States annually and that number is increasing. Many of these adults participate in snow sports and wish to continue skiing. More conservative orthopedists in the past have advised against skiing with a total knee replacement and especially with a total hip replacement. However there is no clear evidence that when skiing within limits, a total knee replacement presents a problem. Logically, experienced skiers in good physical condition should fare better. A novice skier may however present more risk. Reducing impact , perhaps avoiding the bumps and limiting significant knee flexion would be prudent. Cross country skiing should present no problem at all. Advances in equipment have also contributed to reduced risk.
There is no academic work showing disproportionate loosening or wear and tear of the prosthesis, and no one brand of prosthesis to my knowledge is superior to another.
There may be extenuating circumstances in regard to other coexisting orthopedic conditions and participants should asses the risks and benefits with their orthopedist and ideally, work with a physical therapist experienced in snow sports.
Have a question about technique, gear, destinations, travel, or any other aspect of winter sports? Send it to email@example.com, and we’ll do our best to find an expert to respond.
Illustration of a snow covered mountain with ski trails. ILLUSTRATION: YANN KEBBI FOR BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK
The Battle for the Best Ski Pass
Alterra and Vail Resorts are going head to head snapping up resorts. Can they save skiing and make selling lift tickets a viable business?
By Kyle Stock
Even among the world’s most polished ski resorts, Deer Valley—with its vast carpets of flawlessly groomed snow spread across four Utah peaks—was always conspicuously clubby. Skiers can pick up a free copy of the Wall Street Journal on their way to the fire, while instructors eat lunch in separate employee cafeterias, lest they mingle with the guests. “The idea was to replicate the service and experience of a five-star hotel,” says Bob Wheaton, who ran the resort for 22 years before stepping aside in January.
But when the lifts started cranking this season, things looked a little different. Among the affluent families were young couples and packs of Salt Lake City friends navigating the runs for the first time. The reason: Deer Valley had suddenly become a bulk-buy product. In 2017 a new conglomerate (later dubbed Alterra Mountain Co.) bought 11 of America’s most popular ski resorts and teamed with dozens more mountain owners to honor a single-season lift ticket called the Ikon Pass. Compared with buying a string of daily lift tickets for as much as $200 a pop, the Ikon Pass (which ranges from $599 to $899) can pay for itself in as few as three days. Only one other product is in direct competition with Ikon: The Epic Pass from Vail Resorts Inc. admits skiers to its aggressively expanding chain of 20 destinations including the company’s namesake ski area in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains.
Together, Alterra’s and Vail’s passes can be swiped at 58 North American resorts, as well as a handful of resorts in Oceania and Europe. The two competing conglomerates are trying to turn occasional skiers into frequent skiers and frequent skiers into serial skiers who incidentally buy a lot of mid mountain beers and slopeside hotel rooms. Deer Valley and resorts like it have become a sort of research and development lab forecasting possible futures for the long-struggling ski industry.