WEST YELLOWSTONE, Mont. — Every year teams from across the country descend upon the small town of West Yellowstone (pop. 1,271) for the Yellowstone Ski Festival. While the event is a time for team bonding, catching up with old racing buddies, and improving fitness and technique, it’s also a celebration of the nordic community.
People of West Yellowstone gives insight into the people who make this yearly event truly special, whether they are nationally acclaimed athletes or employees at our favorite local businesses.
Zak Ketterson, Leo Hipp and the U16 and U18 Men of Loppet Nordic Racing
FasterSkier: What’s the best part of being in West Yellowstone?
Zak Ketterson: It’s just really cool being somewhere where it is just about skiing for a week because it is not that big in the U.S. We’re in a culture where everyone cares about it. Also, coming from Minnesota where there is not altitude and no mountains, all the scenery here is awesome.
FS: Leo, how have you enjoyed being in West Yellowstone for the first time?
Leo Hipp: I think it’s just a beautiful place to be – great trails and it’s a great place to ski.
FS: How did you get here and how long did it take?
LH: We rented a coach bus. It was supposed to be 18 hours but we had a flat so it ended up being about 21 hours.
Steve German, Missoula, Mont.
FS: Why did you come to West Yellowstone for the week?
SG: I’ve been coming down for 30 years. Missoula doesn’t have a lot of snow this time of year.
FS: How does this year compare to other years?
SG: So far it’s been great. My body isn’t really ready for it but in five days I’m hoping it will be somewhat better.
FS: What’s your favorite part of the Yellowstone Ski Festival?
SG: It would definitely have to be the snow. But I like the gear demo too.
Jessie Knori and Lucy Newman, University of Colorado
FS: When did you get here and how have you enjoyed the camp so far?
Lucy Newman: We got here Friday evening. It’s been fun so far and great snow, much better than we’ve had in Boulder.
Jessie Knori: We have an 800 meter park loop in Boulder so it’s nice to take advantage of the 30 k here.
FS: What do you gain from a camp like this?
JK: Big distance and a lot of volume. It’s also nice to get in some races before the collegiate season starts.
FS: What purpose do the races serve for you as college skiers?
LN: It’s getting the first races out of the way – the nerves and not falling!
Lander Karath is FasterSkier's Associate Editor from Bozeman, Montana and a Bridger Ski Foundation alumnus. Between his studies at Middlebury College in Vermont, he is an outdoor enthusiast and a political junkie.