Ski legend Scot Schmidt got his start in the ski industry working for Steve White, who ran a gear shop in Helena in the 1970s and is now a Gallatin County commissioner. Later, Schmidt returned the favor by making a celebrity appearance at White’s other business—a sandwich shop called Sub Committee, pictured here with (L to R) Schmidt, White and White’s son Matt.Commissioner Steve White sporting a vintage Steep Tech North Face jacket, made famous by his former “shop guy” Scot Schmidt,  who would go on to help invent “extreme skiing.” This shot was taken in July up on the Beartooth Highway with White’s son Matt.

Commissioner White says he just wanted to rip with Scot Schmidt

After a drawn-out ethics investigation into a day of skiing at the Yellowstone Club, Gallatin County Commissioner Steve White was recently exonerated and a complaint against him was dismissed following an investigation by the Montana Attorney General’s Office. 

White was accused of accepting a gift from a YC member with business before the county commission. The gift? The chance to enjoy the YC’s private slopes. Commissioner White recently stated that what really motivated him to accept the invitation to the YC was the chance to see his old friend and former employee Scot Schmidt, who works as a YC ski ambassador. 

It all started at a Big Sky Chamber of Commerce dinner, said White, when it became known that White had a special connection to Schmidt. 

“I’ve known him since 1976. He was one of our shop guys,” remembered White, detailing what it was like to watch Schmidt rise from a nobody tuning skis
at a Helena shop to dominating the world of extreme skiing. 

After starring in a series of Warren Miller and Greg Stump films, Schmidt made it home to Helena and agreed to sign posters at White’s other business—a sandwich shop wonkishly named Sub Committee. 

“He came with his wife,” said White. “And a crowd was there waiting, lined up to see him.”

That was back in the 1990s, when Schmidt became the Michael Jordan of ski wear, launching his Steep Tech line of ski jackets and pants. White said he tried to inherit some used Steep Tech gear directly from Schmidt, but ended up buying his from Bob Ward’s. 

“When you’re on the Ridge at Bridger and there are 50 mph winds, this coat is like you’re sitting in a sauna,” preached White, a true fan. So naturally, explained White, when the chance for a reunion with Schmidt at the YC came about, he seized the moment. 

Just as Schmidt did when he was given the chance to ski in front of Warren Miller’s cameras for the first time. White remembers hearing the story of how Schmidt was discovered at Squaw Valley, Calif. The Montana transplant was making turns in places no one else dared to ski, so Miller’s crew came calling. In Schmidt’s film debut, said White, “He launches a 80–100 footer. It went forever and he survived it, he did just fine. From there, he was golden.”

—DM

 

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