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Mountain High



Welcome to Snowbowl, the secret that is rapidly becoming less of one. And since that seems to be the path ordained for the city of Missoula as well, why shouldn’t its ski area mirror the trend? Having just been voted “Best Ski Area” (again) by Independent readers, the hill hosts its most local event this weekend. Neglected by Ski Magazine during their recent profile of the mountain, the 28th annual Gelande Jump will be held this weekend to determine the winner of the coveted Snowbowl Cup.

Gelande jumping is said to have originated in Germany as a celebration of spring. It’s a type of big-air ski jumping that springs participants hundreds of feet in the air. Literally, gelande means “terrain jump,” and the rules of the sport require the jump exist naturally on the slope. Snowbowl spectators are lucky because at the Bowl, that jump is skier’s left of Sunrise Bowl and right in front of the bar.

Snowbowl owner Ronnie Morris calls Snowbowl’s jump “one of the technically most difficult in the country.” It has a high speed curve that must be negotiated just before jumpers hit the take-off at speeds of 40–60 mph—if, that is, they want to hit the landing transition. Let’s hope that’s the case this weekend. If jumpers don’t go big, it’ll be painful to watch.

Snowbowl’s Gelande record is held by former local and current Polson resident Lloyd Thorsrud, who jumped 204 feet some years back. At age 47 he’s a local favorite and back at it this year. Another local, Rolf Wilson, set a world jumping record in Steamboat recently, on an Olympic jump that allows one to get much closer to the sun, with a launch of 359 feet. They’ll be plenty of pros to watch at Snowbowl this weekend, so get ready.

To see the competition, attend on Feb. 27, 28, 29. Saturday will be free for spectators without ski passes, but on Sunday they will be charged $3, though wee little ones will be admitted free.

Here’s a tid-bit on corporate resorts: A new turf war is underway. Big Sky Resort is butting heads with their neighbors at Montana’s newest ski area, Moonlight Basin. Big Sky’s owner, the Michigan-based Boyne USA corporation, has filed suit against locally owned Moonlight over use of an avalanche control device that allegedly jeopardizes Big Sky staff and skiers. Big Sky is mum until the lawsuit runs its course, but Moonlight calls the allegations “groundless.”

Meanwhile, the Winter Armchair Kayaking Adventure Series continues in Kalispell. This week the course will focus on the foundations of proper kayaking navigation, which is keen awareness of the kayaking environment. Add new terms to your vocabulary: declination, nautical mile and channel markers. Learn the difference between a compass rose and a tulip. Additional topics will include use of bearings and headings, dead reckoning, rules of the waterway and advance planning. The course costs $15 and takes place at the Summit on Saturday, Feb. 28, from 10 a.m. to noon. Advanced registration is mandatory.

OK sports fans, somebody out there has to have a hopeful future Little Leaguer in their life. It’s Little League registration time. Places to sign up are as follows: Harvest Foods and Eastgate Center Mall Sat., Feb. 28, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Hellgate Elementary School on Thurs., Feb. 26, 6 p.m.–9 p.m. Sentinel High School Sat., Mar. 6, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Start throwing the ball now and get ready for early retirement when junior makes the pros.

This weekend the New Rocky Mountaineers are heading to a top-secret Bitterroot cabin. The rustic cabin is surrounded by plenty of Bitterroot backcountry, and is reached via a 3-mile hike with 3,000’ in elevation gain. The trip is hyped as a way to become acquainted with winter camping without the total commitment of living in a frigid tent city or snow cave. After a night of down-home decadence, participants will have the option of trekking up an equally top-secret peak for some sweet turns. In an era where secrets leak faster than February snow in Missoula, we don’t mind the confidentiality. But if you’re interested in finding out more about this mystery location and promise you don’t work for some national magazine, Gerald Oblu will take you there. Call him at 549-4769.

Hard-core cross country skiers, gas up the rig or stick out the thumb—Bozeman’s hosting a long-distance cross-country ski race, and Mountain High wants to see a Missoulian win. The Sacagawea Ski Classic features a variety of races for all ages. Taking place in the Bridger Mountains at Bohart Ranch Cross Country Ski Center, 16 miles from Bozeman on Highway 86, the race features 5K, 18K and 36K race events that begin promptly at 10 a.m.

Ready for spring, but a bit rusty with the old fly-fishing cast? Grizzly Hackle is here to help. Aiming to forge more civilians into hardened fly-buyers, the Missoula fly shop and outfitting service is offering free casting lessons with Grizzly Hackle guides and industry pros. Fly-casters under 18 years of age will also have the opportunity to compete for a free float trip. The event takes place on Sat., March 6, from 10 a.m. until noon in Caras Park.

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