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4 Lifelong Volunteers Receive Awards
April 26, 2022
Jenny White

How four alpine volunteers are at the core of what makes BSF special

This month, the Bridger Ski Foundation (BSF) honored four long-time Alpine volunteers. Melodee Kelly, Bruce Krueger, Bob Petitt, and Rob Hamilton received accolades for their decades of volunteer time, both on the race hill and off. 

What many may call a labor of love also turned into a home away from home. With decades of volunteer time at races, this crew has also led the charge organizing the BSF Ski Swap and serving on various committees and boards. They are the essence of why so many volunteers are the heart and soul of the BSF experience. 

Melodee, Rob and Bruce accept their awards. (Bruce was still up on the hill volunteering.)

“The ski race community in Bozeman is special.It's made up of racers, families, and most importantly volunteers,” says Bob Petitt. “The love of sport drives all these folks. We all enjoy watching a great ski racing event take place and most of us just can't stand on the sidelines.” 

At the final alpine event of the season–the Over the Hill Gang (OHG) Championships–BSF presented these four individuals with rose-filled ski boots and the promise of their name on a plaque on the timing shack. No one quite knows the date of the first OHG races (sometime between 1972 and 1974), but Rob Hamilton has been there for each one. The races  started while John Champeny was the MSU Bobcat ski coach as a way for college athletes to support the younger Bozeman athletes and race together. 

Some of the 60 volunteers that helped over the three days in 2022 had raced the OHG during their own ski careers and others, like Bob, have also watched their own kids grow up racing in the event.  

For BSF Executive Director Evan Weiss, honoring these four lifelong volunteers was a long time coming. He has spent the last several years trying to absorb their collective wisdom–from big-picture advice to the intricacies of how they organize the ski swap and even how they run wires on the Alpine timing system. 

As the club grows and the town evolves, Evan admits that BSF has struggled to bring new parents into volunteer roles. Not only are those roles essential to running races, but more importantly, they build a cohesive community that’s the core of what makes skiing special at BSF. And nothing illustrates that better than the stories below.  “We need more people to join this culture of helping out at races,” says Evan. “This is the community.” 


Rob Hamilton

As a cross country ski racer who did some ski racing for MSU, Rob witnessed the start of in-town ski trails when Cliff Montagne began grooming with a snowmobile in Lindley Park.  Rob eventually found himself coaching Bozeman’s junior cross country ski team. When the Nordic and Alpine clubs merged into the Bridger Ski Education Foundation (which would eventually become known as BSF), Rob got elected to the board directors and spent 23 years serving on the board. As a volunteer-driven organization, he remembers the struggle with early fundraising and the evolution when BSF finally got to a point where they could bring on an executive director and have an office space. 

In his 70s now, Rob is still an active part of the Alpine course crew and the Ski Swap. “I’ve always pretty much been a course crew worker, even before my kids got into the program,” says Rob. “I think the camaraderie–that’s what kept a lot of us in it. We’d always go out to dinner after. Having a few beers afterward doesn’t hurt either.” 

Rob, Bruce, Bob and other volunteers setting up for the 2019 Ski Swap.

Bruce Kreuger

Bruce accepting his award from BSF Executive Director Evan Weiss.

Bruce is the first one on the hill at Alpine races and the last one off, and he works countless hours before and after race days, too. True to form, he was still working on the hill when we passed out the volunteer awards at the OHG races. 

For the last 20 years, Bruce has been one of BSF's most dedicated volunteers. He and his wife, Susan, began volunteering in 2002, when their son Clayton began racing, and even though they no longer have kids in the program, the volunteer hours have never waned. A ski racer in high school, Bruce's love of the sport has endured. 

He’s the kind of person who will build ski racks for the Ski Swap, spend the night sleeping at the fireworks stand (back when BSF had a fireworks stand), and who knows where every wire goes on the timing system. We’d be lost without him. 

Melodee Kelly

Melodee checking in volunteers at the OHG races.

A native of Wilsall, Montana, Melodee Kelly’s family began volunteering in 1982 when her daughter got involved with the Alpine team. After her daughter stopped skiing, Melodee continued to stay involved with the Alpine committee and stuck around to implement changes that included bringing Freestyle and Nordic into the fold so that all disciplines were under one club. Her husband, Spud, has been a longtime coach in the community and a supporter of BSF. 

Most of you may know Melodee in her role as the volunteer coordinator, but she has also been a lead on the Ski Swap for over 35 years and is currently finishing her 2nd term on the BSF Board of Directors. 

Why did she stay these 40 years? “There were a lot of friends who always helped, so I just stuck with it,” Melodee says. “And to put it bluntly, I have totally enjoyed the whole experience.” She adds, “I also enjoyed the vibe and love of skiing and young people learning to ski and compete and improve their skills.  I think it is important for parents to be involved in what their children are doing and to help when needed.”

Melodee will retire from the BSF Board of Directors this spring, but like so many of our dedicated volunteers, we know she’ll continue to give back to BSF.  Thank you!

Bob Pettit

It seems as though Bob and his wife, Kerry, have always volunteered their time for races, committees, and fundraisers. “I started volunteering with BSF races and the board before my daughters had even signed up to participate in BSF programs,” Bob says. And they continued to show up after their twins had graduated. Both Bob and Kerry had stints on the BSF Board of Directors and the Alpine Committee. 

Bob eventually served as an Alpine Officials Chair for the Northern Division. “Having coordinated the Northern Division Officials training, I learned just how important the volunteers are to racing. Without volunteers, there would be no racing. Coaches and paid employees can't do it all.” 

When Bob moved into his position as General Manager of Bridger Bowl, he still found time to show up to BSF’s races and lend a helping hand. As the Petitts move on to a new adventure in Vermont this year, we want to say thank you for dedicating so many of your free hours to BSF. 


And finally, a huge thank you to ALL of the BSF volunteers (Alpine, Nordic, Freestyle/Freeskiing and Trails) who’ve contributed to keeping skiing a grassroots, community-centered activity over the years. You’ve made a big difference in a lot of lives. We know there many additional super-star BSF volunteers out there who deserve recognition, and we’re working on ways to highlight them in the future. 

Finally, we encourage you to catch the volunteer bug! During the ski season, you’ll find plenty of volunteer positions posted at