BILLINGS — On Friday and Saturday, skiers and snowboarders got cheap deals on new and used gear at the eighth annual Silver Run Ski Swap at the Shrine Auditorium in Billings.
“The ski swap has a big, long history in Billings. It used to be run by the Beartooth Ski Patrol. Then they took a big hiatus for several years. Then we kind of brought it back to life maybe seven years ago," said Vanessa Selby, program director for the team.
The Silver Run Ski Club has been around since 1939 and was instrumental in starting up Red Lodge Mountain, the team's home resort. For the past 30 years, Silver Run has been organized as a competition ski team, Selby said.
“We have a rich history. Everyone in Red Lodge knows about Silver Run and who we are. Our athletes come from Billings and Red Lodge and the Cody and Powell area too," Selby said.
At the swap, people consigned their old gear to be put up for sale. Once sold, a portion of the proceeds goes back to Silver Run.
“The swap is an important fundraiser for us. It just helps us kind of get the season kicked off with any gear we might need. We do a lot of coaches training with proceeds from this," Selby said.
A new set of boots, poles and skis could easily run you more than $1,000. Buying gear at a ski swap could save you hundreds of dollars. But the Silver Run swap is more than just a fundraiser, it's also a social event for skiers, Selby said.
“It’s a great fundraiser for our team, but more so, it’s a community service because it’s a great way for skiers in the community to get together. And we get to see a bunch of old friends and make new friends. It’s just kind of a nice event to kick off the ski season," Selby said.
The Silver Run Ski Team has more than 100 members. Avryl Hass, 14, of Cody, is one of them. She's been skiing since she was two years old, the last eight for the Silver Run Team.
Haas said she's excited to get on the slopes this year to compete in giant slalom, and slalom events.
“Skiing gives me a sense of independence, I think. I’m kind of just able to do my thing. And I’m pretty good. Just a lot of pride in skiing with me. It’s my whole life. I dedicate my whole life to it and I just love the sport and the people," Haas said.
Haas said the got to compete in the Western Alpine Region championships last year. The event, ran by U.S. Ski and Snowboard. Haas said she has a goal to one day compete in the Olympics.
“I could see myself having a future. It’s something that I love to do and I think I’ll always love to do it. No matter what. I just love it and I want to do it for the rest of my life," Haas said.
Red Lodge Mountain is scheduled to have its opening day on Nov. 26, the day after Thanksgiving, depending on conditions. There's still no word on what COVID-19 protocols will be taken at the ski area this year. The mountain had representatives at the swap, but they referred questions about COVID procedures to mountain management.