An average day of Alpine racing requires over 30 volunteers on the hill, which means over a three-day event, the Bridger Ski Foundation is often looking to fill some 90+ volunteer slots. While BSF has a crew of incredibly dedicated volunteers who show up whenever we ask, numbers like this mean we also need new parents and community members to help make these events possible.
SIGN UP TO VOLUNTEER FOR THE OHG CHAMPIONSHIPS HERE.
We caught up with three of our long-time volunteers on the hill in between races this winter to give you an inside look.
Dan Brelsford grew up on these slopes; his mom was president of the Bridger Ski Club (before it became BSF) and his dad was head of the National Ski Patrol. He made his mark racing for the Bobcats, including winning the 1978 NCAA Championship in slalom. Dan then coached the Bobcats for 30 years, and along the way recruitied volunteers like Bob Stoltzfus.
As a coach, an athlete, and as a parent of former BSF skiers, Dan understands how much it means to have helping hands. Today, he’s an ever-present fixture on race days. Why? “Well, because these guys all did it for me. These are all my buddies who helped me for 30 years putting on ski races. For one, it’s to give back. And for two, it’s kind of cute.”
Bruce Kreuger is another volunteer who puts his heart and many hours into getting the courses ready for races. Dan says of Bruce, “He goes way beyond the call of duty. All of us guys feel guilty .. If he asks and says he needs help, that’s enough. We come.”
This isn’t just about old friends, though. New blood on the race hill is important, and many of these volunteer positions don’t require experience. Dan advises new volunteers: “Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself.” Ask questions. Get to know everyone. “Everyone is here to have fun.”
Bob Stoltzfus can’t recall exactly how long he’s been volunteering with BSF, but “probably as long as Bruce.” He started helping out with events when Dan recruited him for NCAA races, and he’s never stopped. Bob’s brother often volunteers for gate keeping positions, but for Bob, course crew is his favorite spot and he loves working the races for the younger kids “because these kids are just out having fun.”
For all of these guys, the love for skiing runs deep. You can find Bob skiing at Bridger four or five days a week. Fellow volunteer Kevin Simard claims he skis every day of the week. (Dan sticks to weekdays or the early-lift load for volunteer course crew on weekend race days.)
Kevin’s story is that of an Alpine ski racer who grew up in Maine. His son raced for BSF for several years before turning toward Big Mountain skiing, but Kevin continues to show up for Alpine events. “Just to help out the kids. My parents always helped. All these people here are my friends. We just hang out and enjoy helping out,” he says.
His favorite position? “Pretty much all of it. Right now I’m building the start for tomorrow.”
For these volunteers and dozens of others, signing up to volunteer is about giving back–whether it’s because they were an athlete who once benefited from the work of volunteers, a coach, or a parent who saw how their kid benefited from these experiences. But it’s also about community, and we think once you start getting involved, it’ll be the place you want to be on race days.
Alpine Race volunteer perks don’t hurt either: a lift ticket for the day if you need one, lunch, and a voucher for another day of skiing. Plus, this year’s Alpine Committee is doing a great end-of-season raffle for the volunteers.
Volunteers still needed! Signup here.