Inside Spark: Courtney and Ethan Just Keep Riding!


We have two Spark Employees who have impressive streaks of consecutive months of snowboarding. Courtney McNiff is our Human Resources Administrator and Ethan Marcoux is a Machinist and Design Engineer. They were nice enough to answer a few questions regarding their inspiring feats!

How many months of consecutive snowboarding have you done now?


Courtney: I'm at 71 now. I started in August of 2017, so next month is the beginning of my 6th year.

Ethan: Dang! Nice work. I'm at 58. I started in October of 2018.


Was this the plan, or did it just happen? At what point did you realize how many months in a row you had going?


Courtney: It just kind of happened. I think I saw someone summer skiing and I was like I want to do that. After that first mission I laughed at the amount of effort I put in for five turns on dirty snow, but something about it felt right. It was pretty easy to get the turns in up until the following summer. Then in June or July 2018, I realized that if I just rode a couple more months I’d make it to a year. I told myself I’d stop after that.

Ethan: This was the plan. I tried to get turns all year for about five years and as July rolled around each year I would always decide mountain biking was more fun and easier. Then in June of 2019, I had a pow day (you were there Dan) and that locked in that I needed to finally get turns all year that year.

Dan: Oh nice. That was our Bridger mission when rode off the saddle between Sac and Hardscrabble?

Ethan: Yep, that was good snow for June!

Courtney in the high alpine looking for snow with her dog Nevi.

Ethan booting up a line on the above referenced June Bridger mission.

Is there more pressure or motivation to keep the streak going now that it has been so long?


Courtney: Motivation. Snowboarding is a huge outlet for me and I’m really passionate about it. Sometimes I get overwhelmed when it's a busy month and I still have to get turns in before the month is over, but after I get out there I remember why I do it. It’s my form of self-care.

Ethan:  I think there is definitely more pressure now, purely self-induced, but over the years I have figured out better ways to reduce the pressure. The biggest is trying to get out the first weekend of the month in the summer to ensure I’m not scrambling at the end of the month. Motivation has gone up and down throughout the years. At this point, this has been a great excuse to go camping in the Beartooths every month of the summer and that helps the motivation, they are my happy place.

I would love to summit Mt. Hood one summer as well as travel to South America to get the summer turns in.


Can you talk about your favorite adventure you’ve had that you were on just to keep the streak alive?


Courtney: In July of 2021 my brother and I rode Skyscraper Glacier in Colorado. It was a line we’d been looking at for a couple of years but had been turned away because of weather or the notorious I-70 traffic. We finally had a small weather window so we sent it.

It was honestly terrifying. Skyscraper is a 50+ degree slope and my first steep summer terrain experience. I remember looking over the edge like, if I fall I’m getting rocks to the face. Thomas (my brother) rode from the top, but I cut in a little further down because my legs were shaking so badly.

Then as we hiked back up to the car a gnarly storm came through and we were getting annihilated by hail and running to the car so we wouldn't get struck by lighting. It wasn’t glamorous by any means, but we accomplished a huge goal of ours. And in retrospect, it was pretty hilarious.

Ethan:  There are too many to choose from so I’ll share a couple. In July 2020, I summited Trapper Peak, the tallest peak in the Bitterroot Range. It was a hot day and that 4,000 ft (1200 M) elevation gain in 4 miles (8 km) was rough with a snowboard and boots on my back. I was unable to ride from right off the summit and had to down-climb a few hundred feet but the views were amazing and it was one of the longer lines I’ve skied in July.

June 9th of the same year was also pretty epic. The Bridgers got a fresh coat of snow and a few Spark employees and I went out for a dawn patrol. We were able to skin from the car and ski almost back to the car. We rode Hidden Gully, a Bridger Bowl classic, in winter-like conditions.

Getting Vida, my at the time 9-month-old pup, out for her first day skiing in July 2022 was an awesome experience. She was as excited if not more excited than I was to go skiing. It has now been a year and she is following in my footsteps of turns all year and is a true powder hound!

Ethan splitboarding may 2020

Ethan riding a SW Montana classic in May of 2020.

Courtney McNiff

Courtney half way down the Skyscraper Glacier.

Ethan about to drop into Hidden in prime June conditions.

What was your least favorite mission? 


Courtney:  Last July I did the Blaze and it was some serious Type II fun. The water levels were still funky from all the flooding in the spring so Spanish Creek was raging. Crossing through rushing water with your backpacking gear and snowboarding gear is really hard, not to mention I had to make sure my dogs didn’t get swept away. The snow itself was decent, but the whole approach was pretty draining.

Ethan:  I have enjoyed them all. That being said, September 2020 brought some interesting conditions. As normal, I drove up to the Beartooths and as we were getting to the top we started seeing a bit of snow on the road. Then we (my wife Lilly and I) came around the next corner and were in a full-on blizzard with about six inches of snow and ice on the road. We still had summer tires on our Subaru and had to stop because the car would not go any further and was sliding all over the place. I got out of the car and proceeded to put my boots on, while doing this the wind kicked up and took a sock of mine with it. I then proceeded to walk up the hill right off the highway and made my turns; first time riding fresh snow in September. Because of the weather, I did not want to stray far from the car so I had to do a couple laps to get my twelve turns. We then got back in the car and drove for about five minutes before we were back in seventy-degree sunny weather. 


What was the closest you came to breaking the streak?


Courtney:  April 2020. I was living with my parents in the Front Range when Covid hit. Colorado had pretty strict rules and you had to stay in the county you lived in which meant no mountain access for me. I thought it was going to be the end of turns all year. Luckily on April 13th, we got a pretty good storm and I “toured” through the neighborhood to the local sledding hill and rode some “expert terrain”.

Ethan:  Last year when I broke my elbow at the end of March. Three days after that I left for a two-week trip to Costa Rica unsure if when I returned I was going to need surgery. I had a follow-up appointment when I got back to Montana and ended up, thankfully, not needing surgery. The Doctor told me that I could snowboard... as long as I didn’t fall.


What were the fewest turns you got in on a summer mission to keep the streak alive?


Courtney:  I have a rule with myself that I have to get at least five turns, so far so good.

Ethan:  Twelve. Sometimes I have to ride the line a couple of times to complete that but I told myself when I started this that I need to get at least twelve turns a month to represent the number of months in a year. 


How long do you think it will go for? 


Courtney:  Right now, my goal is to get to ten years (120 months), I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff for a mediocre line, why stop now!?

Ethan:  As long as I can. I never thought I would go this far so I think I should just keep it going until I can’t make it happen. We’ll see if that changes after 10 years haha.



Thanks you two. Best of luck going forward! 

spark flames blog