Sylvie Coston is a typical, high achieving freshman at Stevensville High School. She likes to hang out with her friends. She studies and maintains her grades. She plays soccer at Stevensville High School and she rides horses. But mostly she skis. Coston is a downhill skier who competes on the Junior Olympic Northern Division circuit. Between her training and her competitions, Coston is one busy girl.
Coston competes in the Alpine racing events – slalom, giant slalom and the Super G. All three of these types of racing involve skiing down a hill and weaving between gates (poles with flags on them) as fast as the skier can go. The slalom is the slowest of the three because the gates are close together. The Super G is very fast and skiers can reach speeds of up to 60 to 70 miles per hour. Coston’s mother, Malika, says she hides in the trees during this event.
Coston has been skiing since she was about two years old and competitive skiing since she was six. She belongs to the Missoula Ski Education Foundation. There are about 120 athletes ranging in age from six to 17 years of age that belong to foundation. The skiers don’t actually compete until they are on the developmental team and there Her dad, Tom, is the president of the organization and spearheads much of the fundraising and sponsorship drives needed to support these skiers in their travels.
The 14 year old typically spends her weekends, when she isn’t competing, at Snowbowl where she trains in the events. With her instructors, she works on technique, breathing properly and her body form. “I work on putting my body down the hill as efficiently and fast as possible,” she said.
When Coston isn’t on the hill, she is dry land training. This involves weight training, cycling and running. She is currently working with Alex Semeniks here in Stevensville on the dry land program and says his program has made her stronger and have better stamina.
This past weekend, Coston competed at the USA Jr. Olympic trials in Bozeman against 77 other girls in her age group from not only Montana, but also Alaska, Oregon, California, Idaho, Washington, Utah and Wyoming. She had set a goal of finishing in the top ten in each event. With the Jr. Olympics, a good finish often gets the skier noticed by the national organization and paves the way for more opportunities such as camps and Olympic instructors.
The weather didn’t cooperate this weekend with spring skiing conditions in effect. The Super G event was held at Big Sky. Coston struggled with the conditions but finished in 21st place. The slalom and giant slalom was held at Bridger Ski Area. The wet and rainy conditions again impacted Coston’s efforts. She finished 49 in the giant slalom and 16th in the slalom. Each event involves two races with the times combined. Malika Coston said that if her daughter hadn’t fallen, she would have been right in the middle of the top 10 or 15 in each event.
“But she has to treat it as a lesson and get right back out there again,” said mom.
Coston has one more race this year. She will compete in Bozeman again in two weeks in the college races. She competed in the college races in Red Lodge this winter and finished third behind a couple of Swedish women so she is feeling confident about the upcoming races.
Coston says she wouldn’t be able to do the training, racing and everything involved with the sport without the great support she has received. In addition to her parents, the Kootenai Creek Equestrian Center, 1st Security Bank of Missoula, National Car Rental and Rocky Mountain Therapy are all sponsors.