BOZEMAN — It’s no secret that Big Sky offers some of the best skiing in the country, so it also brings one of the world’s best skiers to Montana.
For seven weeks of the year, you can find Dan Egan carving up the slopes of Big Sky. He looks like any skier on the mountain, but he’s far from average.
Egan is a professional skier and an early pioneer of the sport. He was named One of the Most Influential Skiers of our time by Powder Magazine, and he’s been hitting the slopes ever since he could walk growing up in Boston.
“The way my mother dealt with having eight kids was to get us all outside, so we would sled on the hill, ski on the hill, just have a blast,” Egan said with a smile.
His brother John became a pro skier when Dan was 14 years old, and after college Dan Egan followed suit. The two started making films together in the most dangerous places on the globe.
“Our whole marketing plan was, we went around the world wherever CNN was,” Dan Egan said.
They partnered with Warren Miller Films, skiing in places where the biggest worldwide events were taking place.
“We jumped off the Berlin Wall in 1989, we skied during Perestroika in 1990 in Russia, we skied with the Kurds in the first Persian Golf War on the border of Iraq and Turkey in 1991,” Egan said.
Many of their adventures brought them to the most remote places on the map and many came with a price, like having a gun held to their heads in Turkey, a near-death experience at Grand Targhee by a cornice break, and being trapped at the top of Mount Elbrus by a storm that killed more than 30 people before Dan Egan was rescued in a snow cave after 38 hours of being missing.
But Dan Egan skied history. To him it wasn’t just bringing these incredible movies into the homes of millions of Americans, he was doing what he loved.
“Skiing to me is the expression of my art form. I consider myself kind of a skiing artist, I like to leave my signature on mountains all over the world. My signature is my tracks, and I’ve been blessed to leave tracks in some pretty outrageous locations,” said Egan. “It’s an expression of my personality, it’s an expression of my athleticism and it’s become an expression of my life”
But now you can find Egan teaching anyone who wants to learn how to ski.
“A lot of guys can ski as well as he does, but his teaching ability is really impressive, too. You know he can do it and he knows how to teach it and dumb it down for you,” said Tom Merriman, who took Egan’s skiing clinic at the Big Sky Resort.
And his camps are designed to make you think deeper about how you are skiing and attacking the mountain. He does that by making campers face their fears on the mountain with steeper cliffs or runs through the trees. It’s all to make his campers more confident in their abilities.
“What we try to do is find people’s freak-out levels and push them beyond the freak-out level,” Egan said.
He says teaching is at his essence and he loves sharing his knowledge with anyone who wants to get better at skiing. He especially loves sharing it with the people of Montana.
“They put their chin to the wind, they’re not afraid of the cold, they’re not afraid of the wind, they’re gamers, they’re ready to go for it, and I appreciate that in skiers,” Egan said.
The Big Sky Resort, in Egan’s opinion, offers the best skiing in all of the U.S.
“Big Sky has the terrain, they have the snow, they have the lift access. This is as close to Europe as you can get in the lower 48 and there’s a vibe here, there’s a real passion for skiing here,” said Egan.
His decades of experience have led him straight to an induction into the US Skiing Hall of Fame in the spring of this year.
“It gave me a lot of perspective on my life. I mean, how did two Boston street skiers grow up to make it all the way to the Hall of Fame? It’s quite a journey,” said Egan. “And it really gave me an appreciation for everyone that helped us every step of the way off the streets of Boston all the way to the Hall of Fame.”