Lilli Osler of Stevensville is making a name for herself in mogul competitions around Montana and the surrounding states. This eighth grader is a thrill seeker who is always challenging herself and pushing the limits when boredom sets in.
The daughter of Mary Pat and Rob Osler, Lilli began skiing at just two years of age. When she mastered the bunny slope and then the other runs, she began to look for other ways to push herself.
About four years ago, a coach noticed Osler and suggested to her mother that she attend the Beartooth Basin Summer Skiing Camp. This ski area is located literally at the top of the Beartooth Mountains and features the second steepest mogul course in the world. The coach had seen Osler ski and felt this type of competition would be a good fit for her. Osler said she was too afraid to fall down on the course because there was nothing to stop you until you reached the bottom of the course. She made it down the course and was hooked. Moguls were in her future.
Mogul skiing is a type of freestyle skiing that combines tricks and jumps with a fast time. The goal is to be the fastest down the hill with the cleanest run and execute several tricks and jumps on the way down. Osler says you have to keep your knees close together while switching back and forth down the course. The moguls are small, hard mounds of snow and ice on the ski slope. Originally, they developed as skiers used the same routes over and over again as they went down the hill. These days, the moguls are precisely placed in the competition so that competitors seem to hit each mogul and bounce from side to side as they bend at the knees and hips.
In addition to speed, and how the moguls are skied, the tricks are also judged. Take offs and landings are part of the score as is the execution of the trick in the air. These are all combined into one score. She says that bar is always being raised, as the tricks get tougher and tougher.
The tricks, although not as high as the aerial competitions, are nonetheless exacting and thrilling. They feature full rotations such as 360’s and 720’s, and back flips. Osler went to a camp in Park City, Utah, last year where she worked with instructors and other campers on these air maneuvers. The camp uses a water jump so the campers take off like they would on a ski hill but then they land in the water. They also use air mattresses to work on these jumps. Osler said that although she hasn’t done a 360 degree spin yet in competition, she expects to do one sometime this year.
In her first year of competing, Osler was named the Rookie of the Year. Each year she has pushed herself to do more and more. She is the only member of the Lost Trail Mogul Team right now and may join the Bridger team. She has a new coach this year. Jason Allen, originally from Victor, has been a big help to her and has pushed her to do new tricks and made her better.
She recently competed at Sun Valley where she scored a personal best. “The jumps were bigger, and the turn scores were really high because the course was really fast.”
The Sun Valley competition also had more competitors. Usually Osler competes against about 20 other skiers. There were over 60 girls competing at Sun Valley and Osler finished 16th overall. The competition is head-to-head with the winners advancing each time so by the end of the races, they are really tired. She has been to three competitions this year and has two more before the Junior Nationals in Parke City in March.
Osler said she skis at least four days a week and more if she can fit it in. She is home schooling this semester because it is just too difficult to make the competitions and keep up her homework. (Her mother interjects at this point that Osler’s grades have not fallen at all during this time.) A lot of really dedicated competitors go to ski boarding schools so they can train all the time. She may do this at some point in the future if she decides to take this to the next level.
In the summer, in addition camps both on snow and above the ground, she spends a lot of time cycling, trail running, and wants do learn to kayak and rock climbing. Thrill seeking doesn’t just end because the snow is gone. But skiing is her big love. She loves to ski big hills and jump off chutes. She plans on competing at the Cold Smoke Competition at Lost Trail in the coming weeks. This involves skiing over a cliff and down the chutes on the north face of the mountain. Her mother even said she might join her in this.
When asked about the future, Osler said that she would continue to do this as long as it’s fun and challenging. When asked about the Olympics, she simply replied, “I would like to go to the Olympics, a lot.”