The tribe that skis together, gets hungover together. Powder Week 2017, Big Sky, Montana. PHOTO: Bob Allen
The tribe that skis together, gets hungover together. Powder Week 2017, Big Sky, Montana. PHOTO: Bob Allen

Meet the Powder Union, Class of 2017

The 33 skiers who make Powder Week—and the 2018 Buyer's Guide—possible

There is one elemental thing you should know about the people who make up the Powder Union: First and foremost, they are skiers. Yes, they may identify as fathers and daughters and brothers and sisters, or they may make their living as a writer or ski tech or teacher, or they might like to dress up like a nun and mariachi band member when they ski. But the thing that makes them tick more than anything else is being in the mountains with skis on their feet.

Throughout the 2018 Buyer’s Guide, you’ll see them referenced, either via byline or experience. So how do they get chosen? How does one get invited to be a “ski tester” at Powder Week? First off, they don’t ask to be invited. Secondly, despite some of the shenanigans that take place at Powder Week (such as ASSFART Day—aka All Ski Something Fast Awesome Rad Together Day—hot tubbing, competitive beer drinking, and competitive hot tubbing), we take it very seriously. It’s important to you—the readers we serve—that Union members do the required work of skiing hard, bell-to-bell for four consecutive days, and documenting the ins and outs of all 200-plus skis that go out on the hill.

It’s an enormous blast, of course, and anyone would be so lucky to call such a thing work. But, at a resort like Big Sky—with its 4,300-foot vertical drop, razor-sharp rocks, sketchy no-fall goat traverses, face-melting groomers, harsh wind, and frigid temperatures—Powder Week is intended to crush even the most fit and committed skier. So Powder Union members need to be strong skiers, technically proficient, and brave in the face of unforgiving conditions. Just as important is their ability to discern the strengths and weaknesses of a ski—and then discuss those findings intelligently. For these reasons, we invite many shop representatives from around the country, as well as many of POWDER’s regular correspondents who spend the season skiing in many locales with different people while on assignment.

Another requirement that sets the Powder Union apart is their independence from any particular brand. There are no sponsored skiers on the Powder Union. Though it’s human nature to have our own little biases, we place significant accountability on the Powder Union to go out onto the mountain with an open mind, to find what works for them, to meet new people, to learn new things. Just like you, each season they assess their gear needs and shop around to make sure they get the best skis for how they like to ski.

Lastly, they need to be able to stay up, really late, partying their faces off, and then get up at 7 a.m. to do it all over again, hangover and uncomfortable boots be damned.

All together, the Powder Union is a diverse group of ripping skiers who promote camaraderie and celebrate skiing. Any one of them you’d want as a reliable, humble, hilarious, all-in-for-anything ski partner. And for that, we are truly grateful.

PORTRAITS: David Reddick

Brit Barnes
Age: 34
Hometown: Big Sky, Montana
Occupation: Master Ski Tech, Big Sky Sports
Other Things You Should Know About Brit: As a kid, Brit, a Billings native, traveled around Southern California with his family as they’d work the carnival circuit, which makes him a carnie…For nearly 15 years, he’s been repairing skis that have been disemboweled by Big Sky rocks.

Brit Barnes, Powder Week 2017, Big Sky, MT

Kelsey Barnes
Age: 31
Hometown: Big Sky, Montana
Occupation: Snowsports Supervisor, The Yellowstone Club
Other Things You Should Know About Kelsey: Comes from a ski racing pedigree, which means she can tell Yellowstone Club member Tom Brady a thing or two about how to properly make a turn…Even as she was seven months pregnant this spring, Kelsey was skiing steep couloirs deep in the Montana backcountry.

Kelsey Barnes, Powder Week 2017, Big Sky, MT

Tyler Bradford
Age: 32
Hometown: South Lake Tahoe, California
Occupation: Shop Manager, Powder House
Other Things You Should Know About Tyler: Former champion of the Gunbarrel 25, the most rigorous and rowdy mogul competition in the country…Thinks the whole North Tahoe-South Tahoe rivalry is pretty funny…likes to fly.

Tyler Bradford, Powder Week 2017, Big Sky, MT

Abigail Barronian
Age: 24
Hometown: Brooklyn, New York
Occupation: POWDER Correspondent
Other Things You Should Know About Abigail: Last winter, Abbie worked undercover as a dishwasher at Alta’s Goldminer’s Daughter (read the feature-length story in POWDER’s November issue)…Grew up skiing White Pass, Washington..has been working as a writer in New York City…but plans to spend this winter in Bellingham to plunder deep pow at Mount Baker.

Abigail Barronian, Powder Week 2017, Big Sky, MT

Julie Brown
Age: 33
Hometown: Tahoe City, California
Occupation: POWDER Managing Editor
Other Things You Should Know About Julie: On her first two POWDER trips, Julie got reprimanded by ski patrol for skiing too fast…Has her master’s from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism…Alter ego Jackie Brown tends to emerge on sunny days at the hill.

Julie Brown, Powder Week 2017, Big Sky, MT

Alex Buecking
Age: 31
Hometown: Bozeman, Montana
Occupation: Shop Manager, East Slope Outdoors
Other Things You Should Know About Alex: It’s pronounced “Bicking,” not “Bucking” or “Byooking”…Big Sky local for numerous years…knows his gear frontward and back, and can write about it intelligently and extensively…fishing guide during the summer.

Alex Buecking, Powder Week 2017, Big Sky, MT

Cory Calkins
Age: 37
Hometown: Whitefish, Montana
Occupation: Bootfitter, Lone Mountain Sports
Other Things You Should Know About Cory: Montana born and bred, Cory has been a Big Sky local for several years…fishing and hunting guide in the offseason…sacrificed his knees in the making of this Buyer’s Guide.

Cory Calkins, Powder Week 2017, Big Sky, MT

Sam Cox
Age: 36
Hometown: Bozeman, Montana
Occupation: USFS Smokejumper
Other Things You Should Know About Sam: Born and raised in Bozeman, Sam is a lifelong skier at Bridger Bowl…Back in the day, Sam skied for several tele-ski films before he locked it down like the rest of us…Saves up to take an international ski trip ever winter, where he’s been spotted tending bar late night and maybe sleeping in someone’s doorway.

Sam Cox, Powder Week 2017, Big Sky, MT

John Clary Davies
Age: 33
Hometown: McMinnville, Oregon
Occupation: POWDER Editor
Other Things You Should Know About John: Former all-state high-dive champion, John was known as “No Splash Davies” in high school…Once spent a month traveling and skiing off the Great Siberian Railway, crossing the entire country while on assignment for POWDER…likes to eat cheese and meat sticks.

John Clary Davies, Powder Week 2017, Big Sky, MT

Sierra Davis
Age: 27
Hometown: Estes Park, Colorado
Occupation: POWDER Associate Editor
Other Things You Should Know About Sierra: While working as a newspaper reporter in Los Angeles, she took a side gig as Val Kilmer’s personal assistant…is single handedly making Rollerblading popular again…hit her first park jump this year.

Sierra Davis, Powder Week 2017, Big Sky, MT

Jed Donnelly
Age: 38
Hometown: Butte, Montana
Occupation: Cat Driver, Big Sky, Montana
Other Things You Should Know About Jed: During the summers at Big Sky, Jed is part of the crew building some of the best bike trails in the Northern Rockies…a ripping skier and biker but you’d never know it from talking to him.

Jed Donnelly, Powder Week 2017, Big Sky, MT

Ian Fohrman
Age: 36
Hometown: Denver, Colorado
Occupation: POWDER Correspondent/Content Creator at The Public Works
Other Things You Should Know about Ian: A talented writer and photographer, Ian puts a lot of thought into everything he does…including his Instagram captions…makes skiing in denim look like something you probably want to do, too.

Ian Fohrman, Powder Week 2017, Big Sky, MT

Eric Gerrmann
Age: 32
Hometown: Boston, Massachusetts
Occupation: Co-Founder The Ski Monster
Other Things You Should Know About Eric: Similar to Zoolander, Eric is not an ambi-turner…Due to this not so common disorder, Eric is known to just Point and Send…One day Blue Steel will happen and it'll be one for the books…Eric copes with this by always accepting the offer for one more, and at Powder Week, one more is a Tito's Mule.

Eric Gerrmann, Powder Week 2017, Big Sky, MT

Aaron Hansen
Age: 44
Hometown: Bozeman, Montana
Occupation: High School Teacher/Fishing Guide
Other Things You Should Know About Aaron: An all-American football player in high school, Aaron occasionally likes to sleep-run down the hallways in the middle of the night…When he’s not skiing Bridger Bowl, he teaches high school biology…and is a fishing guide in the summer.

Aaron Hansen, Powder Week 2017, Big Sky, MT

Matt Hansen
Age: 42
Hometown: Jackson, Wyoming
Occupation: POWDER Editor-at-Large
Other Things You Should Know About Matt: When eating something really sweet, Matt’s eyebrows sweat…He can’t really build a shelf, to the chagrin of his wife, but can bake some damn good bread, to her delight…backcountry and resort skier in equal measure.

Matt Hansen, Powder Week 2017, Big Sky, MT

Heather Hansman
Age: 33
Hometown: Seattle, WA
Occupation: POWDER Correspondent
Other Things You Should Know About Heather: A former staff editor for both Skiing and POWDER magazines, Heather has been writing about skiing for many years…last year, she floated the entirety of the Green River, in Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado, and is currently writing a book about the experience.

Heather Hansman, Powder Week 2017, Big Sky, MT

Spencer Harkins
Age: 25
Hometown: Salt Lake City, Utah
Occupation: Freestyle Ski Coach
Other Things You Should Know About Spencer: Got his initial invite to Powder Week via a text message sent to the wrong number…May drop into big lines BN…and thus gets invited back.

Spencer Harkins, Powder Week 2017, Big Sky, MT

Kade Krichko
Age: 28
Hometown: Seattle, Washington
Occupation: POWDER Senior Correspondent
Other Things You Should Know About Kade: Currently getting his master’s degree in Spain…knows where to find all the best videos on the World Weird Web…also writes for the New York Times…has really cleaned up nice over the years.

Kade Krichko, Powder Week 2017, Big Sky, MT

David Marchi
Age: 41
Hometown: Bend, Oregon
Occupation: Owner at Crow’s Feet Commons
Other Things You Should Know About David: Grew up at the base of Mount Shasta, where his father, an Italian immigrant who worked in a wood mill, started the local ski race club…Collegiate racer and worked as a coach for the U.S. Disabled Ski Team…been a heli ski guide in Alaska for several years.

David Marchi, Powder Week 2017, Big Sky, MT

Alex Meilleur
Age: 30
Hometown: Seattle, Washington
Occupation: Product Info Nerd, evo
Other Things You Should Know About Alex: After double ejecting into a pile of rocks at Big Sky, Alex became Powder Week’s first-ever Shark of the Day…Got hooked on skiing after watching Candide’s Rastafaride movies…in high school had a GeoCities website focusing on our cool little sport here.

Alex Meilleur, Powder Week 2017, Big Sky, MT

Clare Menzel
Age: 24
Hometown: Whitefish, MT
Occupation: POWDER Correspondent
Other Things You Should Know About Clare: A part-time reporter in Whitefish, Clare is an Ivy League-educated writer who grew up skiing the East Coast…which makes her a natural talent at Gelande Quaffing…she also works on a garlic farm.

Clare Menzel, Powder Week 2017, Big Sky, MT

George Michaelsen
Age: 32
Hometown: Boston, MA
Occupation: Co-Founder The Ski Monster
Other Things You Should Know About George: George tends to make fighter jet-like sounds while he's skiing…He also frequently and exclusively quotes the movie “Top Gun” on the chairlift…Apparently, he feels the need for speed.

George Michaelson, Powder Week 2017, Big Sky, MT

Michelle Nicholson
Age: 32
Hometown: Jackson, Wyoming
Occupation: Elementary School Teacher
Other Things You Should Know About Michelle: Think of how much you love powder, and multiply that by at least 100…that’s Michelle…Born and raised in Jackson, she now lives in Teton Valley, Idaho, where she imparts her love of powder and being outside on the next generation.

Michelle Nicholson, Powder Week 2017, Big Sky, MT

David Page
Age: 49
Hometown: Mammoth Lakes, CA
Occupation: POWDER Senior Correspondent
Other Things You Should Know About David: A gifted writer, David authored “The Human Factor” series for POWDER, which was recognized by the American Society of Magazine Editors as one of the best digital features in the country in 2016…David is also a staff member at the Winter Wildlands Alliance.

David Page, Powder Week 2017, Big Sky, MT

Wally Phillips
Age: 36
Hometown: Salt Lake City, Utah
Occupation: Expert Gearhead Team Leader, Backcountry.com
Other Things You Should Know About Wally: Takes the best and most thorough notes of anyone on the Union…always shows up on time…grew up punching gates at Seven Springs in Pennsylvania.

Wally Phillips, Powder Week 2017, Big Sky, MT

Mike Rogge
Age: 32
Hometown: Tahoe City, California
Occupation: POWDER Senior Correspondent
Other Things You Should Know About Mike: A former staff editor at POWDER, Mike moved to Lake Tahoe and never looked back, co-founding a shared work space as well as a content creation business called Verb Cabin…Grew up skiing West Mountain in New York State, which makes him good at skiing all kinds of crappy snow and the mini park.

Mike Rogge, Powder Week 2017, Big Sky, MT

Ryan Rubino
Age: 31
Hometown: Burlington, Vermont
Occupation: Manager, Skirack
Other Things You Should Know About Ryan: One of the longest-serving non-staff Powder Union members, Ryan has attended six Powder Weeks…In the spirit of ASSFART Day, he once organized a grocery-cart downhill…an encyclopedia of gear knowledge and good times.

Ryan Rubino, Powder Week 2017, Big Sky, MT

Crystal Sagan
Age: 35
Hometown: Boulder, Colorado
Occupation: POWDER Correspondent
Other Things You Should Know About Crystal: Owns a mobile “Cocktail Caravan” run out of a camper named Lolita…grew up in Michigan and has BFA in ceramic arts…covers gear for POWDER and the occasional naked ski party.

Crystal Sagan, Powder Week 2017, Big Sky, MT

Joe Sagona
Age: 48
Hometown: Orange, California
Occupation: Executive Chef
Other Things You Should Know About Joe: Growing up in Park City, Utah, Joe became a highly ranked competitive skier and X Games athlete…His family moved to Orange, California, after his father bought a charter boat service to Catalina Island…Last winter, Joe earned the award for Best Crash at the Northern Sierra Longboard Races.

Joe Sagona, Powder Week 2017, Big Sky, MT

Dave Stergar
Age: 49
Hometown: Anaconda, Montana
Occupation: Middle School Teacher
Other Things You Should Know About Dave: Dave says he’s from a little town in Montana, but he’s actually from Intensity in Ten Cities…He teaches in Helena, and drives two and half hours every weekend to ski Big Sky…He could ski the Big C on a plastic sled and make it look good.

Dave Stergar, Powder Week 2017, Big Sky, MT

Lyndsay Strange
Age: 30
Hometown: Salt Lake City, Utah
Occupation: Owner and Coach at Party Beach Ski Camps
Other Things You Should Know About Lyndsay: Always has a new joke to share…is an expert karaoke singer…loves a good leather pant…will make you a better skier in just one run.

Lyndsay Strange, Powder Week 2017, Big Sky, MT

Hannah Victory
Age: 29
Hometown: Mammoth Lakes, California
Occupation: Elementary School Teacher
Other Things You Should Know About Hannah: A former collegiate racer whose favorite ski of all time is a ridiculously long and stiff pair of World Cup-tuned Rossignols, Hannah crushes everyone at Powder Week.

Hannah Victory, Powder Week 2017, Big Sky, MT

Dane Weister
Age: 27
Hometown: Burlington, Vermont/Salt Lake City, Utah
Occupation: Ski Tuner/Painter
Other Things You Should Know About Dane: Originally from Burlington, Dane lived in Big Sky for a few years, working at a local shop, before moving to Salt Lake City last year, where he’s been working at a shop at Snowbird…He looks better in a speed suit than your girlfriend…favorite animal is the manatee.

Dane Weister, Powder Week 2017, Big Sky, MT