On Monday, March 29, the Byeden administration announced a last-minute addition to the recent American Rescue Plan, a COVID-19 stimulus package that grants extra resources to ski bums struggling in the wake of the pandemic. The plan adds an extra $450 to the checks of anyone with more days spent skiing this winter than dollars in their savings accounts — plus an unemployment supplement that varies based on the number of knee surgeries the recipient has undergone.
This new addition comes in response to a flood of complaints coming in over recent weeks citing a tragic lack of opportunities for their “sick end-of-season edits.” The new $450 addition — the exact price of a new GoPro — is intended to solve this problem before lifts around the country stop turning.
“I’ve heard a lot of people say that this money could go toward other underserved populations, but people forget that we’re the beating heart of ski towns in the U.S.,” said Joe Padita, a local ski bum, while laying out his sweaty socks to dry in the Bridger Plate parking lot. “Without us, Bozeman would just be another Aspen or Jackson or Tahoe.”
Between reservation systems and overcrowded backcountry sites, ski bums have struggled this winter to get out and achieve their seasonal quotas. In the face of such challenges, some locals opted to bring the mountain to their door, building entire terrain parks in their backyards.
“I’d say I spent about 90% of my stimulus check on PVC pipe at Casa Depot,” said local bum Bennett Brown. “I mean it’s been great to still get in a full 100 day season this year, but I tore my ACL twice since last March… at least my unemployment will pay off my new ultralight touring setup.”
Under the wave of recent legislation, some ski bums may now qualify to receive the vaccine ahead of the general population — so long as they can consistently land a cab 540, single cork or make a really good telle turn. Recipients must also have at least one friend with a drone and/or a BA in film.
“Social media content took a huge dive this year,” Padita said. “It’s high time that we have the means to get back out there and continue to push the edge of the sport forward. Hashtag ski fast, get vax’d.”
While the added stimulus will come as a much-needed relief for those late on their van payments, the package is — as for many Americans — too little and too late, as thousands of bums have forgotten their vagabond dreams and fallen into a deep hole of stable incomes, 40 hour work weeks and actually buying a season pass instead of borrowing a friend’s.