Athlete Profiles

Nicholas Michaud

Give us the low-down — where you’re from, how you made your way out to Bozeman, what you enjoy doing when you’re not training, etc.

I moved to Bozeman to join the Bridger Ski Foundation Elite team in 2015. I grew up on the northern border of Maine–a humble, hard-working, close-knit community called Fort Kent. I’ve poured my energy and passion into nordic ski racing and training full-time since coming to Bozeman. When I’m not doing that, I’m working at 406 Brewing Company, mentoring with Thrive, playing music, or committing non-crimes with friends (it’s like getting all the excitement and thrill of crimes, but completely appropriate–get in touch if you’re curious).

Word on the street is that you enjoy skiing… Tell us, how did you get into this sport? What are your goals for this season?

I grew up playing ball sports with my brothers, dad, and their friends. Endurance sports seemed silly to me. I broke into that world, however, when my dad started taking me crust skiing. We’d hop on nordic skis in the sunny spring and fly on the morning crust, from field to field for hours. It was the first time I enjoyed playing outside without some kind of ball and goal. In high school, a nordic program called Maine Winter Sports Center had high-level programming and really good funding. I was drawn by the opportunities to “do sport” around the world and by the closer correlation between hard work and results than seemed to be true in team sports. It was only MY fault if I didn’t put enough work in.

This season, my eyes are set on top-15 results at World Championships in Seefeld, Austria in February, and in World Cup racing.

We’ve heard you sing at the top of your lungs during BSF’s training sessions in the gym (mostly to Rihanna…whoops, secret’s out…) but we also know you sing and play guitar in a local band. Have you always been into music?

You’re lucky that isn’t the top of my lungs! Also, Rihanna is otherworldly.

I’ve always been musical, but didn’t realize that could play a role in my life other than car-singing until I picked up one of the school’s saxophones in 5th grade. Most recently I realized that creating music is my favorite emotional outlet–a creative expression of my reflections of the crazy things we get into, care so much about, and are so heavily affected by. And it’s so fun!

How would you describe your team, coaches and the BSF community? Any advice for the younger athletes in the BSF program?

Familial. The BSF Elite Team right now is comprised of some of nicest people I’ve worked with in any capacity. And the BSF community at large really does feel like a family. Everyone is looking out for each other. If I mention I’m a part of BSF around town, people show respect because they’ve been affected positively by someone tied with BSF.

For younger athletes, make sure you keep finding that balance between purposeful work and hilarity as you get older and have to “become an adult.” If you’re curious how to do this, look to Mike, Emily, and Colleen at The Mountain Project. They are some of the best in Bozeman at balancing work and fun.

Favorite post-training meal…(this is important)…

Hawaiian Style Bratwurst by Pioneer Meats. I could exist on just those and water. Once I retire, I want to try a “Brat Cleanse”. Only bratwurst and water for a week. I could document changes I see in my body and share the info with other sausage enthusiasts so they can benefit from my research and development (we call it R&D in the food world). My guess is that after a week, I’ll want to try another week, and so on. It may take years until I want to eat something else. Hop on over to Town and Country and get yourself some of these. Delectable!

You and the rest of your team have been coming into The Mountain Project for some time now and we’d say you know its community pretty well. How would you describe the gym and the coaches here?

Fun, earnest, and knowledgeable. I’m always anxious to come banter with the coaches when we come in to train. But I can also ask their advice on anything training related and they’re willing and able to flip the switch and help me in a meaningful way. Being a part of a gym hasn’t ever really mattered to me until becoming a part of the TMP team. They’ve changed the culture of strength training for so many people in this community. It’s contagious and exciting. The Mountain Project is a place to laugh, dance, and push yourself to new limits as an athlete and a person.

You get the last word. Anything else you’d like to add about yourself, racing, BSF, TMP, etc?…

Mike Wolfe is a good boy.

Axel Yount and Mary Anderson

You’re both two of our original TMP athletes! What first motivated you to come train at The Mountain Project? 

Mary: We moved to Bozeman right before TMP opened and were looking for a gym. I trained with Emily a bit in Missoula and loved her classes so knew I had to try it out! As I was getting more into trail running and running longer distances, I was nervous about getting injured and also wanted to improve overall strength. TMP helps me stay healthy and achieve running and skiing goals. For example, Ive been working towards running a 50 miler for a few years and TMP helped me accomplish that this summer.

Axel: I was attracted to the focus on functional strength. I like how the exercises make me better in the mountains rather than just making me better in the gym.

Tell us a little bit about yourselves! How you met, your lives here in Bozeman, how you like to spend your time outside…

Mary: I met in college in Missoula (Go Griz!). We went running on our first date, Axel got us lost, and I kept hanging out with him since he had a car and could drive me to ski at Snowbowl. We’ve been married for 5 years now! Outside of our day jobs, we do a lot of running and skiing. If I could do anything any day, it would be skiing. I’m also trying to get into mountain biking, which is terrifying!

Axel: Sounds about right!

You both recently went and backpacked England’s Coast to Coast trail – tell us about it! Any more big adventures planned in the future? 

Mary: England was really cool! My parents let us tag along their trip so it was great family adventure time. A lot of sheep, good Indian food, and who knew England had such cool mountains and lakes? We’re currently working on exploring more of MT and feel lucky to live somewhere with such easy access. Hopefully international adventures will happen again soon too!

Partner  fitness duel: ski battle, TMP battle, run battle — who would win which?

Axel: Ski Battle: This one is close. We always try to release the other out of their bindings but no one seems to gain the upper hand. Poles can usually be stolen pretty easily and a blind-sided tackle is never out of the question on a pow day. That the kind of battle you’re talking about, right?

TMP Battle: Planks: me. Every other exercise: Mary.

Run Battle: I might win a shorter race but Mary is undefeated at 50 miles.

How would each of you describe The Mountain Project? It’s athletes, community, coaches, etc….

Mary: All aspects of TMP are welcoming and fun. I never feel intimidated by class, the coaches, etc. even though everyone is a total badass. The coaches are thoughtful and attentive. I love running into other TMP athletes around town and in the mountains, it’s a great connection to share.

Axel: I agree!

Marypat Zitzer

Tell us about yourself, your family, and your journey to calling Bozeman your home.

I’m 63 years old and married to my partner, husband, and father to our 3 amazing children, (Al). I came to Bozeman for the first time in the 70’s and moved here on a whim in 1980. My sister was here already and visiting me in Wisconsin and asked if I wanted to move to Bozeman and I said “why not”, so here I am. I worked for Kletterworks, Dana Design, Mojo systems, wilderness experience and Mystery Ranch while gaining residency and going to MSU graduating as a Bobcat in May of 1985. In June of 1985 Al and I set off on our first cross Canada expedition of 14 months – read Al’s first book Water and Sky for all details. We got married upon our return and continued our lives skiing, biking, hiking and going to Canada in the summers to get away from the crowds – HA!

Becoming a Mother was such a privilege and I loved it. My community of women, friends, family, and my partnership with Al helped keep us all outside and in the wilderness. We had the kids on river trips by the time they were a few months old and skiing all kinds, biking and hiking, running and swimming. It is such a joy to share the outdoors with your kids – they show you and teach you so many things! Don’t get me wrong, it takes a lot of energy to get there but, once there, the rewards are grand! Hard and uncomfortable at times and we questioned ourselves all the time, but the rivers and mountains always won out! Bozeman was a great place to raise kids.

How did you first come to find yourself taking classes at The Mountain Project?

Al and I have been friends with Mike and [his brother] Patrick’s parents for years and watched the two grow up. So when Mike opened his gym I wanted to support him. Needless did I know how hooked I would get. And, bonus, two Super Women Emily and Colleen came into my life! Plus two of my kids got hooked also.

We know that you’ve been able to go on some pretty amazing trips, adventures and treks – what advice would you give to a young athlete first starting out with their own adventures?

Picking your trip or adventure partners is key to success. Choose people who are well versed at whatever the activity; not hard-driving-goal-seeking so much but personable, capable, strong and has a good sense of humor and can laugh at oneself.

If you could only pick one outdoor activity to do for the entire summer – the one that truly puts you in your happy place – what would it be? 

I have found that most often it’s the people you’re with that make a difference in the activity. In the mountains, on the water, on the snow, on the bike or trail, if I am with my family, kids, and Al I am the happiest; then my gal pals and all my friends. The outdoors always gives me peace and strength. Solo time is very important.

Thomas Hellman

Tell us a little bit about yourself. We know you work for REACH Air Medical, are happily married to Nora Hellman, and often provide some sarcastic, comedic relief in the gym – but, what does a day in the life of Hellman look like? 

A day in the life? It’s usually pretty vanilla. My job affords me a deluxe schedule that leaves plenty of space for recreation, community involvement, and family. My interests are similar to most of us living in and around Bozeman. I’m drawn to the energy found playing in the mountains. Quality of life is a priority and that means a healthy work – life balance that includes bicycles, skis, running shoes, coffee, a camera, Nora (hot wife), usually a dog and always adventure.

What first brought you to The Mountain Project to train?

I have known and worked with Mike Foote for many years. He, along with some old Missoula friends, told me that Mike Wolfe was creating a place for everyone. This was something different and it has not been a disappointment. The Mountain Project cultivates dynamism. We are challenged as athletes to train and develop physical as well as mental strength and endurance. It also happens to be fun.

We’ve heard a lot of thoughts and opinions on TMP’s playlists during class. Tell us, for music, Wolfe, Kipp, or Colleen? 

I’m confused why this is still a question. Wolfe.

If you were to describe The Mountain Project – it’s community, classes, and coaches – in three words, they would be: 

1. relationships
2. dynamism
3. tribe

If you could stock the gym’s mini fridge with one food or drink that was all yours to snag post-workout, what would it be? 

Coconut water. I really like coconut water.

Brianne Stevenson

Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you chose Bozeman as your home? What do you do for work? And what does an average day in the life of Bri look like?

Moving to Bozeman 5 years ago was coming home to the state that had my heart. I grew up in Missoula and knew I wanted to get back to Montana eventually. The backyard playground lifestyle of Bozeman intrigued me to job hunt here. I’m a physical therapist and love that I get to help the community get back out to adventuring in our mountain trails and rivers…or shoveling all the snow in their driveways!

 

What brought you to The Mountain Project for your first training session, class, or event?

I was looking into different workout classes to get some conditioning before ski season and heard about this new gym opening called The Mountain Project. Their training philosophy and workout style of cardio/strength/agility/plyometrics was exactly what I was looking for. I came the first day the gym opened and haven’t looked back. This is an amazing community of friends/adventure buddies!

 

What motivates you to keep coming back and doing the work? Are there specific events/races you’re training for? Or is it simply the desire to be in your best shape for whatever adventures come along?

I’m a fan of getting my sweat on and the classes at TMP make that happen! They keep me in shape so I can attempt to keep up with my uber athletic friends. I do a few races a year for fun, but mainly just adventure to keep me young at heart.

 

What are the top 3 words you’d use to describe the community of coaches at The Mountain Project?

Bad-ass. Witty. Passionate

 

OK. Now for the important stuff. What’s your post-adventure beverage or indulgence of choice?

I’m not too picky when it comes to imbibing post-adventure drinks… usually a cold beer with good company!

Oksana Masters

You’re a world-class athlete and total badass!  What first brought you to The Mountain Project as the best gym/training option to hit your competition goals?

The mountain project had everything we were looking for in training for the 2018 Winter Paralympic Games. I absolutely love the layout and the bad ass feeling you get when you workout there. The way you can train there you can’t train in any other place. 

 

Tell us a little bit about your training sessions at TMP.  What keeps you motivated while pushing you to new limits of physical and emotional strength for Olympic level competition?

Our training sessions will vary on what the training block is. A month out from the Paralympic Games we are doing power lifts. I get motivated to push my self in the gym by seeing so many new innovative workouts the coaches set up for classes and it’s always good to change things up and keep your body guessing. Every time i am in the gym Mike and Emily are always psyched to follow our success at races and go above and beyond in making sure we have what we need. It’s an amazing feeling knowing the place you train is so supportive. I love working out there. PLUS their music there is always on point!

Where have you felt the most progress in your competitive edge while getting your sweat on at TMP? 

I would have to say having the ability to train during the weekends and holidays like Christmas and thanksgiving. We have been super lucky and fortunate to have the ability to get our sweat on when ever our training calls. I am so grateful for the generosity the Mountain project has given us. When we bring home a medal for team USA, The mountain project will own half of that medal because our success wouldn’t be possible without the ability to get our sweat on off the snow.

Give us a glimpse of the events you’ll be competing in during upcoming weeks and months, and how you’re mentally preparing in addition to all of your physical training?

I will be racing in all Cross Country events, sprint, middle and long distance. And all of the Biathlon, sprint, mid and individual and possibly a cross country relay. Right now my mental prep is just believing in the work I have put in on snow and at The Mountain Project.  Now it’s just sharpening things and staying relaxed.

When the TMP community gets together to cheer you on and celebrate your victories, should we toast with IPA, champagne, or kombucha?

Ooohhh that is a tough one.  But, of course I would have to go with an IPA or maybe a whiskey!

Aaron Pike

You’re a world-class athlete and a total badass!  What first brought you to The Mountain Project as the best gym/training option to hit your competition goals?

The Paralympic national team has made Bozeman home for the past two winters.  One of the first things that we tried to figure out was where we were going to get our strength workouts. We checked out a couple places in town and quickly gravitated to The Mountain Project.   Mike and Emily were awesome about letting us move anything around to accommodate our lifting session.  The gym gives us endless possibilities for plyometric exercises.

Tell us a little bit about your training sessions.  How do TMP coaches keep you motivated while pushing you to new limits of physical and emotional strength for Olympic level competition?

We usually have a few  basic lifts like pull-ups and bench press.  We also utilize medicine balls for many different plyometric workouts.  We have about 10 different standard lifts and then also a bunch of dynamic core  exercises that are important to Nordic skiing.  The coaches at the Mountain Project are always positive and engaged in the workout.  I think that when you are training at the highest level you usually don’t need motivation –  but with that said the coaches at the Mountain Project create a awesome relaxed and focused environment that promotes a very positive and fun place to push yourself and work for big gains.

Where have you felt the most progress in your competitive edge while getting your sweat on at TMP?

I think that I have made the most progress in my explosiveness on snow and I have continued to improve my core strength which has made a major impact in my skiing.

Give us a glimpse of the events you’ll be competing in during upcoming weeks and months, and how you’re mentally preparing in addition to all of your physical training?

We are now down to the home stretch we have had a couple world cups one in Canmore Canada and then another in the Black Forest in Germany.  The main focus this year though is obviously the Paralympic Winter Games and we will be heading to Korea the 1st of March and competition starts on the 9th of march.  I will be competing in 2 cross country races the Sprint event and the middle distance which is 7.5km.  I will also be competing in 3 Biathlon races the Sprint, middle, and Long distance race, the distances vary from 1km to 15km.

When the TMP community gets together to cheer you on and celebrate your victories, should we toast with IPA, champagne, or kombucha?

I’m a pretty simple guy and would definitely appreciate it if everybody enjoyed their favorite beer should I make the podium !   Only in Bozeman would someone make Kombucha an option to celebrate with haha, you have to love this town.

TMP Note:  Kombucha would never be our first option either, Aaron.  Bring on the PBR.

Patrick Burr

Give us a little background info about you – like  how you picked Bozeman as your mountain adventures hometown, what you do for work, and what your average day is like?

I moved to Bozeman in 1996 with my parents. My dad often jokes about how I’m not grateful enough that he brought us here instead of some city. I grew up snowboarding, hiking and fishing. Now my main outdoor activities are trail running, backpacking and foraging for mushrooms, berries and whatever else I can find.

I own Roots Kitchen & Cannery which is a small batch cannery focused on using local produce and fruit. My day involves sourcing produce, coming up with fun new recipes, sales calls, jamming, canning and whatever else comes up.

What brought you to The Mountain Project for your first training session, class, or event?

My kitchen has been located at 507 Bond St for 4 years now and I was so fortunate to have Mike Wolfe purchase the building and move in next door. It has been incredibly motivating and inspiring to have him and his crew as neighbors. They invited me over to train on their opening day and I’ve been consistently working out there since. It has been incredible to say the least.

What motivates you to keep coming back and doing the work?  Are there specific events/races you’re training for?  Or are you just looking to kick a@# whenever adventures come along?

I have a few races that I’m training for including a 50k, but mostly I just want to be in the best shape that I can be so I can run around in the woods like an animal. The training at the Mountain Project has made me more sure footed and increased my endurance to a level I didn’t think I would achieve especially in such a short amount of time.

Give us the top 3 words that come to mind when you think about the community of coaches and athletes at The Mountain Project

Compassionate, inspiring, and FUN!

What is the post-adventure or workout indulgence of choice that keeps you going when you need some extra motivation to get it done?

When I get back from a backpacking trip or a long run I usually crave Snickers and Doritos, which I rarely eat on my day to day.

Cory Reistad

Tell us a little bit about yourself.  How long have you called Bozeman home?

I was born and raised in Bozeman.    During my college years, I spent a semester in St Petersburg Russia, then came home briefly before moving on to sojourns in New York City, Milan Italy, and San Francisco, CA.  In the year 2000, at 30, I decided it was time to move back home.

Why did you decide to check out The Mountain Project for the first time?  Was it a certain coach, class, or open gym availability?

My girlfriend introduced me to Mountain Project.   She was at the time a fitness trainer and believed that the type of  training at Mountain Project would fit my lifestyle.

What are the biggest rewards for you – both in terms of your training or fitness levels. as well as the community of other athletes and coaches you’ve met?

The rewards from The Mountain Project are profound:   I run further, I run faster, I can ski hard all day, I feel stronger. Mountain Project teaches us-or perhaps reminds us- that working hard produces benefits.

What would you tell someone who’s intimidated to try working out at TMP because they think it’s for elite athletes?

For a first time at TMP’er:  Get ready to understand and acknowledge muscles in your body that you never knew you had.   Im not a fitness guru, but Mountain Project is about balance and agility as much as it is strength, and that means we find new muscles to tweak every day.

RUBY ZITZER

Give us the low down on who you are and what makes you tick! My name is Ruby Zitzer. I am 22 years old I was born and raised in Bozeman.  I feel extremely fortunate to have grown up in such an awesome town with…

DOUG EBY

You’re one of the original athletes to sign up for training at The Mountain Project. Tell us what drew you to the gym and training programs in the first place. I started working with Mike in the summer of 2016, while training for The Rut…

EMMA STEIN

Tell us a little bit about yourself in terms of where you grew up and what your life is like now.  Why have you chosen Bozeman as your current base camp for life’s adventures, big and small? Born and raised here, my roots have always…