It's not just the Olympics that featured skiing with high stakes this weekend. More than 180 youths competed in the slalom at Great Divide on Saturday in a final effort to qualify for two regional competitions.
Ski race teams from across the state converged on Great Divide hoping that their members might qualify for the Tri-Divisional Championships or the Western Region Championships. With categories for children under age 8 through under age 14, the oldest kids who had a chance to qualify went first to ski when the course was at its cleanest.
Each competitor got two timed runs, which were then combined to determine their place.
"There's a big disparity between the younger and older kids," Mike Walsh, a coach for the Great Divide Ski Team, said. "There's a lot of different experiences."
Carol Vosbeck, who coaches the girls at Great Divide, said the team practices Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday nights. After the first few skiers took a run, Vosbeck said they were getting through it well.
The race is scheduled in conjunction with the Winter Olympics, and coaches agreed it boosted the excitement level for the competitors.
"They're staying up late every night," Vosbeck said.
After a first run, Maggie Davis and Winter Johnson, both 13, were warming up in the lodge. Both ski for Big Sky, and the two had been watching the Olympics religiously but disagreed on whether Lindsey Vonn or Mikaela Shiffrin were the best skier in the Games.
Davis said she's been ski racing for seven years and doesn't see herself giving it up anytime soon. She was in sixth place after her first run and was hoping to qualify for the Western Region Championships. Despite crushing her fingers after hitting several gates on the way down, Davis was feeling good about her chances.
Johnson said she disqualified during her first run, but was excited for the second one where she could push herself and try something new.
"It's a new opportunity," she said.
The competition at Great Divide concluded on Sunday. Full results are available at ussalivetiming.com.