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.
Nathaniel Kuzio, Green Mountain Valley School
FasterSkier: Tell me a little about your race today. How did it go?
Nathaniel Kuzio: I raced the youth men 7.5 k and it went really well! I cleaned prone and standing was a little rough, but I skied well enough to stay up there.
FS: What does an early season race like this accomplish?
NK: It’s just to get through the motions of going through a race and get the feeling of what it’s like again. There wasn’t too much pressure but it definitely got me ready for the season.
Jen Olson, West Yellowstone Resident and Writer
FS: How long have you lived in West Yellowstone?
Jen Olsen: I moved here in October but I’ve been a periodic skier here over the past several years and I’ve been coming every summer since I was born.
FS: What got you involved with the Yellowstone Ski Festival?
JO: My boyfriend works at Free Heel and Wheel so I was asked to sell tickets and be a part of it.
FS: What has been your favorite part of working here so far?
JO: It has been seeing all the expert skiers out there and their commitment to the sport, and the really young kids who are giving it a try. Also I get to meet people from all over the world.
Carmi Schulman of Madshus and Brian Gregg of Team Gregg
FS: What does someone like you do in West Yellowstone?
Carmi Schulman: Hand out all the stickers! No, I actually do a little bit of everything. I talk to people about the skis at the expo, we get people out on as much gear as we can here at the demo, and we make sure people are happy and on the right gear.
FS: From the demo-side of West Yellowstone, what is your perspective on the Festival?
CS: It’s really fun. With the younger crowd that is here, there is a rally cool energy that’s really lively. Everyone’s stoked to be on snow – that’s why we all do it and it’s why we’re all out here.
Crested Butte Nordic and Assistant Coach Molly Susla
FS: Why are you and your team dressed up today?
Molly Susla: When we were coming to West Yellowstone we decided that we wanted to make a music video. Benjamin Swift, who has been filming us the past couple years, has made some very serious videos of us skiing, so we decided to make a fun one this year. We picked out our song which is Everytime We Touch by Cascada. Everyone brought costumes.
FS: What is this video for?
MS: It’s more for the fun of making it. We hope everyone gets a chuckle out of it.
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.