Ski Patrol Number Plate

A new state license plate allows Montana snow sports enthusiasts to champion their pastime in style while supporting the Volunteer National Ski Patrol.

The plate, designed by Missoula artist Mat Reesman, features a skier and a snowboarder making their respective turns on a powder ridge, presumably in Big Sky Country, and bears the phrase “Ski & Board the Last Best Place.” The plate design has been available through the Motor Vehicles Division since July 1, and costs motorists $20, with a $20 annual renewal fee.

The money will benefit a cause most skiers and snowboarders will deem worthy, said Eric Weckenbrock, director of Snowbowl’s Volunteer Ski Patrol, a cadre of unpaid patrollers who work at the Missoula ski area on weekends, when the crowd numbers are highest.

The patrol used money from its own limited coffers to pay a $4,000 plate fee, which reimburses Montana Correctional Enterprises for the initial costs of producing the specialty license plate. After that, the design is programmed for manufacture.

The volunteer patrol at Snowbowl is a chapter of the Volunteer National Ski Patrol, and its members are financially responsible for their own ski gear, packs, avalanche and emergency rescue training, education and uniforms.

The patrol’s motto, “freezing ours, saving yours,” speaks volumes.

“It’s a fun way to volunteer your time, but it can be a lot of hard work,” Weckenbrock said.