While many Missoulians holed up last weekend to catch some of the 2006 Winter Olympics, the upcoming crop of North America’s finest skiers descended upon Missoula’s Snowbowl for three days of intense competition. We may be watching these young contenders at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Joe Chalmers, Missoula Freestyle Ski Team head coach, says the 2006 North American Finals marks the first time Montana has hosted the event, an important lead-up to the World Cup. That it coincided with the Olympics added to the intensity.

“[The Olympics] are the dream of every kid at that level,” Chalmers says. “It was on our minds for sure.”

It doesn’t seem so long ago that Missoula’s own Eric Bergoust, a 1998 gold medalist, was the reigning aerials king. Chalmers, who grew up skiing with Bergoust, says his buddy is likely part of the reason Missoula won its bid as host. Now, after nearly two decades on the U.S. Ski Team, Bergoust is a legend. After ranking 17th in the Feb. 21 aerials competition, he missed making the Olympic finals.

But Missoula’s hard-working team makes it clear we’ve got plenty of talent on tap for competitions to come.

•••

Don’t know about you all, but after seeing as many Big Sky Documentary Film Festival entries as we could get our hands on in preparation for last week’s cover package on the 3rd annual shindig’s offerings, and after spending the last week seeing as many more of them as we could squeeze in between necessary but wastefully unpleasant bouts of sleeping, eating and working, we’re just about filmed out. And as we write this Wednesday morning, on the verge of sending the paper off to the printer, we’re headed out the door to see yet another one. Then, in short order, we’ve got to thoughtfully and fairly decide how we think it stacks up against a bunch of others we’re already getting awfully close to barely remembering, so all-consuming have been the week’s unaccustomed distractions: the laminated access badges dangling, the elbow-to-elbow lobby crowds jostling, the earnest filmmakers milling, the chicken wings digesting and that goddawful popcorn doing the other thing and the ill-considered insults traded and the hotly contested opinions shredded on the Wilma’s cutting-room floor. Good Lord it’s been fun. Now we need to sleep for a month or so. And when we’re done with that, we’re going to start looking forward to doing it all again next year.

•••

And finally, just a note to say so long and good luck to Yogesh Simpson, who ably stepped into our photo editor position these last 7 months or so. We’re looking forward to postcards from Hawaii. And a big Indy welcome to former intern and new photo editor Sarah Daisy Lindmark, who work has already made an impression in these pages. We’re looking forward to seeing more.

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