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Skylehr “Smiles” Stiles defying the odds one medal at a time

Posted at 3:28 PM, Feb 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-22 20:23:07-05

BOZEMAN — The Special Olympics of Montana is holding its annual Winter Games at Moonlight Basin on Monday.

“No, fast! Really, really fast, I am a speed demon,” Skylehr Stiles said with a huge smile across his face.

A speed demon, it’s about as easy as that. Stiles simply has no fear when it comes to conquering the snowy mountains of Montana.

“I can’t stop, I can’t stop,” he said, laughing.

The downhill skier has had a decorated career at the Special Olympics. With the help of Eagle Mount at Bridger Bowl almost 20 years ago, his dream to be on skis came alive.

“Eagle Mount mentioned in 2002 that skiing would be a great sport for him,” his mother, Peggy Stiles, said. “Neither one of us ski so we were a little apprehensive, but he was all in, so we brought him up and he’s been in it ever since.”

But it hasn’t been groomed slopes his entire life. Skylehr has been known for his contagious smile, but his mom said it wasn’t always like that

“Skylehr truly has a God-given sweet spirit,” Peggy said. “He did not talk until he was 6 and so until he was 3 he did have a little bit of a temper, because he couldn’t communicate. But once we learned sign language and we could communicate with him, that spirit came out. … What you see is what you get all the time, and we are so blessed because it doesn’t change. He doesn’t have a bad day. We’re really lucky.”

And with everything he does, he has his sights set on the gold.

“Not second place. First place all the way. Not second, not,” Skylehr said.

“We sit here and we drink coffee and visit and wait the 20 minutes and watch for him,” Peggy said, referring to the Jim Bridger Lodge at Bridger Bowl. “And like I said, I still tear up when I see him come down, because it’s totally amazing to me, and to have his life so fulfilled when it could be so different.”