MISSOULA – The 2018 Winter Olympics start in just a few days, but perhaps a few 2022 or 2026 Olympians showed their speed and skill at Snowbowl this weekend. The Missoula Freestyle Ski Team hosted its annual regional moguls competition.

Nearly 40 impressively talented boys and girls 18 and younger raced to the finish while throwing a few soaring tricks along the way. The event serves as a qualifier for U.S. Junior Nationals, and brought teams from Bozeman, Utah, Idaho and Washington to the mountain to challenge the local standouts.

Rainey Wilson of Sun Valley, Idaho won the girls title. Thomas Stevens, formerly of Missoula who now trains in Utah, beat Wasatch teammate Dillon Marcellini in a thrilling boys final.

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Stevens is the little brother of Darian Stevens, who will ski slopetyle in the Olympics. All of Montana’s current Olympians (Stevens, Maggie Voisin of Whitefish and Brad Wilson of Butte) competed in similar events just a few years ago, which gives the current youngsters something to shoot for.

“Watching them ski all of the time is so cool,” said 14-year-old Missoula Freestyle Ski Team member Robert Crosbie. “It’s so cool just to meet them. I really look up to them, definitely. I definitely see myself going pro. Maybe not to the Olympics, but definitely somewhere along the lines of junior nationals, nationals.”

“They come back here and it’s nice to meet them and nice to see them ski and to have advice from them,” added 15-year-old Paxson Sweirc. “And it’s nice to know that people from a small town like Missoula can make it to the Olympics.”

Montana skiers have been fortunate with the white stuff this year. Sun Valley had to cancel its competition due to the lack of snow, so to make up for it, they’ll all return to Snowbowl for more rounds of moguls skiing on Monday.

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