Ryan Hill risked his freedom for a single day on the slopes, and now he's in the pokey.
Thanks to some poor decision-making and what he called "baby mama drama," Hill will have to wait until next season before getting another chance to shred the gnar.
"I was thinking the big jumps in the park were going to be built," Hill said from the dayroom at the Sanction, Treatment, Assessment, Revocation, and Transition (START) Center in Butte, a holding place for convicts before the hard time starts.
"I knew it wasn't going to be a powder day, but I wanted to hit those jumps."
The 32-year-old Helena native was arrested at the Great Divide ski area on Dec. 10 after violating the terms of his pre-release from Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge. Hill, convicted of burglary in 2004, was recently paroled and was only allowed to leave the pre-release center to go to work or the gym. He thought he had a perfect plan to skip out of work and snag a few runs though the park.
But he hit a bump he wasn't expecting. His ex, the mother of his child, also happened to be at the mountain that day, and she called the police.
Hill was escorted off the sun deck in handcuffs.
"Every time she hears of me screwing up she gets me," Hill said.
Hell hath no fury, indeed.
This isn't the first time Hill has returned to prison for breaking the terms of his release. Over the years he's been in and out of two different Montana prisons. He's been in pre-release three times, and he's had two rounds of drug and alcohol treatment. Hill said his desires to do the things many Montanans love to dolike skiinghave landed him back behind bars more times than he'd like to count.
"I love Montana so much. That's why I try to get away with shit I guess I shouldn't try to get away with," Hill said.
Last winter, while out on parole, Hill left the state on multiple occasions to hunt powder in Idaho and Wyoming in violation of the terms of his release.
"He skipped out on parole to go two states away just to get the fresh," says Hill's friend, Jesse (who didn't want to give his last name). "He's a diehard skier."
On the Idaho-Wyoming trip, while driving over Teton Pass west of Jackson, Wyo., Hill rolled his Jeep. He convinced his friend to take the blame for driving so he wouldn't get busted.
"We got pretty lucky," Hill said. "Jesse said he was driving. We didn't have beers but we had a little weed in the vehicle. They didn't search the vehicle and he said he was driving so they didn't check me out. He best-buddied for me."
Hill said his friends warned him that his pow addiction was eventually going to cost him. But Hill thought it was a risk worth taking.
"They always tried to tell me, 'you must love prison,'" he said. "It's just my M.O. I'll make it six months or a year and then something else catches up with me."
Hill said he expects to be out of prison by August. "Hopefully I'll be out of here in time for wakeboarding season," he said.