Ophir sixth-grader Sawyer Wolfe will have home field advantage for the Headwaters competition. He’s been skiing as long as he can recall and does it with passion.

Fat cliffs and fast runs

Big Sky’s Sawyer Wolfe to compete in Headwaters Spring Runoff

For eleven-year-old Sawyer Wolfe and his freeride teammates, it’s all about going “mach chicken.” For those not in the know, that means straight-lining your skis, going as fast as you can.

This is Wolfe’s first year on the Big Sky Ski Education Foundation freeride team, and second year of competing in the event. He’s out every winter weekend at Big Sky Resort with his team from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., skiing hard and nearly nonstop. Lately, they’ve been prepping for Headwaters by hiking ridges around the resort and doing mock competitions. 

Being part of a team is a highlight for Wolfe, who quickly named off all of his coaches. “We have Drew, Wallace, Julie, West, Cooper and Jordan,” he said. “All of them are amazing. And so are my teammates. We get to hang out, we get to ski hard, we get to push each other. It’s fun to have a team around you to bring you up when you’re down.”

Hiking the Headwaters ridge doesn’t seem to phase Wolfe—He cut his teeth skiing at Bridger Bowl, infamous for its obligatory hikes. But he does realize it’s a serious endeavor. 

“If it’s icy and blowing like 80 miles an hour, that sort of freaks me out,” he said, recalling a hike last year in those conditions where he nearly blew off the ridge above Class 6 if not for Coach Wallace grabbing hold of him. 

“That was probably one of the scariest moments of my life,” he said. “I realized that if Wallace hadn’t jumped on me, I’d probably not be having fun right now.”

His mom, Ciara, cringed and smiled. “I don’t like hiking with him, it makes me too nervous,” she said. “I can hike it by myself, but watching your kid do it is a whole other thing. He skis all of it with his dad.”

Wolfe’s favorite runs are CP in the A-Z chutes and Second Fork to Elbow in the Headwaters Three Forks. 

“The hike’s not friendly, but once you get out there it’s the best,” he said. 

When asked which is better, the North Summit Snow Field or the Big Couloir, Wolfe was quick to pick North Summit. 

“The Big is easy,” Wolfe said. He’s skied it nearly 30 times—three times in one day. 

Since he’s not into ski racing, freeride competitions are the ideal venue for Wolfe’s competitive spirit. 

“Big mountain is my terrain. I prefer big mountain,” he said, noting that his sixth-grade class at Ophir is “super competitive” and he likes to be a part of that. “I like picking a singular spot and doing as much as I can in it. I like airing fat off of cliffs, and I like going mach chicken.”

—JP

 

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