Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, January 11th through the 13th, marked the first USSA freestyle event for the Northwest Region. The event, held at Montana Snowbowl on Sunrise Bowl, drew athletes from Missoula, Bridger, Lost Trail Powder Mountain, Discovery Ski Area, Sun Valley, Idaho, Park City, Utah, and White Pass, Washington.
Before the competition, though, the Northside Kettlehouse held a community pint night for the Missoula Freestyle ski team Wednesday night. Despite the pouring rain, the brewery was packed. Donovan Power, coach for the Missoula team, expected to make around $2,000 from the event. The Kettlehouse gave 50 cents per pint sold to the team that night. Last year, Power said, the Kettlehouse sold over 800 pints.
Kids wiggled between chatty adults, begging parents for money and playing around. Among them stood Holden Largay, the 14-year-old Power called the best in his age group. He said he was excited about the upcoming competition.
"What's the best part about the sport?" I asked him.
"Winning," he said.
Isabella Golob, who's almost 14, stood near the door with some other teenagers. She traveled from Tacoma, Washington to compete with the Bridger team. She's only skied at Montana Snowbowl a handful of times and came in earlier in the week for some extra practice with the Bridger coach.
"It's like a tunnel," Golob said, referring to the mogul race course. "You don't remember the run you just did. I like the rush of it."
Golob is one of two girls on her team back home. She says she wishes there were more girls in the sport.
These skiers will be judged by local Missoula skiers, some who spent time on the US Ski Team. Fifty percent of their score is based off of the line they pick through the moguls, 25% comes from the tricks they do off of two different jumps in the course, and the last 25% depends on the speed at which they do it.
Lilly Osler of Lost Trail Powder Mountain said she likes the speed part.
"I love duals," she said. Duals competitions include two skiers running the course at the same time, head-to-head. First one to the bottom wins. "I like duals because they're fun and not as stressful. I like to go fast."
Donovan Power spent five years on the US Ski Team and now enjoys coaching his team.
"As a coach, I just show kids how to ski and how to have fun. That's what I do," Power said. He said his kids train at Snowbowl three times a week from December until April. He appreciates the bowl for their help building and maintaining a course.
"They are always helping to blow snow and build a course for us. That course on Sunrise Bowl is always there so our kids can lap the T-bar again and again. Other resorts don't have that."
Below are some pictures of Sunday's dual competition, with a surprise visit from freestyle legend Glen Plake at the end of the day.