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Q2 AOW: Zach Bion's unusual path to Rocky Mountain College ski team

Zach Bion Rocky ski team
Posted at 2:08 PM, Feb 28, 2024

RED LODGE — Most of us are aware of sibling rivalries. But sometimes ... siblings are beneficial.

“So, my mom was looking for aviation schools for my brother because he’s trying to be a pilot," Zach Bion explained to MTN Sports at the base of a Red Lodge Mountain ski slope. "She saw (Rocky Mountain College) had a ski team and thought it would be a good fit for me.”

Turns out it's a great fit for Bion, though his brother ultimately chose another school. But, the sophomore from Minneapolis feels like he got the better end of this deal.

“It made me feel pretty good, you know. Knowing (coach) Jerry Wolf wanted to have me here, knowing it was a really good team. So, I was ready to ski for four more years,” he said.

It’s a resurgence for Bion after most of his junior and senior high school years were wiped out by COVID. Prior to that, he tested the slopes — and competition — in Europe as a sophomore.

“I got my butt kicked," Bion flatly admitted with a laugh. "But it was fun. … It was a really cool experience skiing against a whole bunch of different nations.”

And he likely feels at home now with almost half of Rocky’s men’s roster filled with foreign skiers.

“It’s crazy, I’ve got Norwegians … I’ve got my first German (skier)," Wolf said of this year's young men's ski team. "Just a boatload of new freshmen. New kids, new shot in the arm.”

Bion placed second in slalom racing last weekend at the Western Regional in Red Lodge. Now, he and Rocky's men and women are on to the United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association national championships starting Tuesday in Lake Placid, New York.

As for his major, Bion is leaning toward an elementary education degree and already has a jump on teaching.

“Oh yeah, I coach over the winter break so when I go home to my home mountain, I coach the kids there,” he said with a rewarding smile.

So, would he consider sticking around to teach and coach kids here in Montana?

“You know, it’s hard being far from the parents and the family, so I’m still torn on that one," Bion said, still smiling. "I’ll give that three years to sit on.”

Who knows, by then maybe his brother will have a pilot’s license and won’t mind flying Zach back and forth.