NEAR NEIHART — It’s a little less than three months out from opening day at Showdown Ski Area near Neihart. That may seem like a long time but believe it or not they’ve been hard at work getting the mountain ready for the upcoming season.”
“It’s our 85th anniversary,” said Showdown owner and general manager Katie Boedecker. “Showdown is the oldest, continually operating ski area in Montana. We’ve been here since 1936.”
To stay in business that long takes a lot of hard work. At Showdown, there was about a two week break from when last season ended and the preparations for this one began.
“This summer we did about a $100,000 update on our triple chair,” said Boedecker. “A new operating system was put in and that took the majority of the summer. We do the regular maintenance on all our chairlifts. We’ll be doing trail work the next few weekends. We’re still cleaning up after the logging project that took place here last summer.”
Like many operations, Showdown felt the impacts of Covid - but for a business that prides itself on social distancing they came out okay.
“Maybe people were trying to get away from the crowds and ended up at smaller ski areas,” said Boedecker. “I think most of the smaller ski areas in Montana did pretty well last year.”
Boedecker says the ski area employs about 18 to 20 people year-round. When the lifts are running, that number will be at about 120. Getting that staff can be a challenge.
“People need to commute from either Great Falls or White Sulphur or the surrounding ranch areas and even Lewistown,” said Boedecker. “We have shuttles from Great Falls we have a shuttle from White Sulphur. We’re paying pretty good for the winter and we offer really great benefits and it’s a really fun place to work.”
Boedecker says the ski area is hiring for all positions. An application can be found on the Showdown website.
If Mother Nature cooperates and all goes according to plan, opening day is scheduled for Friday, December 10th. That same weekend, Showdown will host its annual food drive. Last year the event collected 23,000 pounds of food for the Great Falls Community Food Bank.
Boedecker says in conjunction with the 85th anniversary, the ski area plans to share exciting stories about the mountain and its history on social media.