Located in the Little Belt Mountains, Showdown Montana is the place where the show truly goes down, and it just so happens to be the oldest continually-operating ski area in Montana, having opened in 1936. Former owner George Willet sold the ski area in Sept. 2020 to his daughter, Katie Boedecker, after 48 years of living out his dream as the owner of the historical resort.
Showdown consists of 34 trails adding up to 640 acres of terrain with, “30% beginner terrain, 40% intermediate and 30% expert,” Boedecker said. Lift access includes four lifts: one triple chair, two double chairs and a magic carpet. Being the smaller Montana ski resort that it is, Showdown employs just over 100 workers, with around 50 employees working full-time and the remainder working part-time. “We’re just really fortunate to have a really good team,” Boedecker said of her staff.
The Montana Business Assistance Connection (MBAC) helps fund economic development in Meagher County, where Showdown is located. The ski area is a strong local business that drives the economy and the MBAC helped Boedecker receive a loan to keep the ski hill in familiar hands. “My partner and I bought stock of the ski area in April of 1973 and just last September Katie bought my stock,” Willet said. “And I bought my partner out in 2017, just before Katie bought my stock in 2020.” When his daughter, Boedecker, bought the ski area, she became one of the few women in the world to fully own and operate a ski area.
During her father’s ownership of the mountain, Boedecker held multiple jobs at Showdown, including being the director of marketing and advertising, doing prep work in the kitchen and bussing tables, operating lifts, being an instructor, overseeing guest services and standing as operations manager since 2011.
Boedecker’s future plans are to maintain the status of the family-oriented ski area and to upgrade equipment over time. “We’ll be upgrading our triple chair this summer, putting in a new operating system on that, we are going to engage with the Forest Service in a potential land exchange and if that’s successful we’re going to move ahead to build a hotel,” Boedecker said. The addition of a hotel will attract more tourists, which will be helpful for competition with larger ski areas such as Big Sky.
Showdown is a unique and historical business and for anyone who appreciates the history of skiing, they will surely find a soft spot in their hearts for places like this one. Boedecker’s operation of the resort is the family’s way of keeping their dream alive, and they hope to continue sharing the magic of skiing for years to come.