Big Sky honors servicemembers with reduced prices, free lift tickets

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Emerald Ralston
  • 341st Space Wing Public Affairs Office
Military members from all throughout Montana came to the Big Sky Resort's Military Appreciation Weekend Dec. 7 to 9. 

Beginners, as well as seasoned snowboarders and skiers, attended the event and took advantage of the 150 trails ranging from beginner to expert across the resort's 5,500 acres. 

"This year the resort gave away more than 650 free lift tickets over the two days," said Dick Fast, retired Air Force veteran and ski instructor at Big Sky. "The actual number of military members visiting was higher, as some family members came along just for a family weekend. Last year, more than 900 military personnel and family members were here for the weekend." 

The lift tickets may have drawn them in, but the rest of the offers sealed the deal. 

In addition to free lift tickets, rooms were heavily reduced in price, and there were significant discounts on ski and snowboard lessons and rentals. 

"I've never done this before but I had a blast sliding, rolling, stopping and falling face-first down the mountain," said Airman 1st Class Efrem Foster, 341st Missile Maintenance Squadron tool room technician. "I didn't know how hard you could crash without breaking a bone." 

And his sentiments were shared by many other members of Team Malmstrom who took their first turns down a mountain at Big Sky. 

"I had a lot of fun falling down the mountain," said Senior Airman Anthony Chavez, 341st Medical Operations Squadron mental health technician. "But I think it is spectacular they did this. It's a good opportunity for people who wouldn't have gotten out to experience it otherwise." 

Employees of Big Sky coordinated to make sure this opportunity was widely publicized for the most military participation. 

"The program started in December of 2002. I had a conversation with a friend who worked in the sales and marketing department of the resort in 2001 about the many military members from Montana - active, guard and reserve, who were involved in overseas deployments," Mr. Fast said. "During that conversation, the idea of doing something in the way of recognizing their sacrifice and service came up. We took the idea and ran with it." 

Many servicemembers who attended the weekend events appreciated what Big Sky does for them. 

"A number of people stopped to tell me or e-mail me about how much they appreciated what the resort is doing," Mr. Fast said. "It makes us feel good that we can do a little something to help." 

"It's good to see businesses offering this type of event for the military," said Warrant Officer Steve McKenzie, Montana Army National Guard. "It's a good event to bring military and the community together at a beautiful place like Big Sky." 

Sponsors of the event were pleased to see servicemembers from the Nation Guard, active-duty Air Force and Reserves enjoying the weekend. 

"I think it's a great program," Mr. Fast said. "It shows military members throughout Montana and neighboring states that we recognize the sacrifices they are making and it's our small way of thanking them. My involvement is because of my 33 years of service in the Air Force. I remember how important it was and how good it made me feel when someone said 'thanks.'" 

Big Sky continues to say thanks throughout the season with season-long military discounts. The lift-ticket price is $39 for military identification card holders and $55 for adult family members.