MISSOULA — The wait was long enough for Missoula teenage skier Oliver Long.
The Hellgate freshman had lost to his older brother, Harrison Long, a sophomore, twice in dual moguls over the years. The brothers, both junior nationals qualifiers in the past, met for the third time during Sunday’s regional competition at Montana Snowbowl when they were paired against each other in the third-place race.
Harrison appeared to cross the finish line a split second ahead of Oliver, but neither celebrated right away. After about a dozen seconds of the judges factoring in jumps and turns, Oliver was announced as the winner, edging out Harrison, 68.69-66.02, to get bragging rights and finish as the highest-placing area skier.
“It feels pretty good,” Oliver said with a smile afterward. “Glad I finally got the win.”
“I personally didn’t agree with it,” Harrison retorted.
The Long brothers have lived and trained in the Garden City for the past decade after spending their first few years on the East Coast. They joined the Missoula Freestyle Team after co-director Donovan Power saw them on the slopes and was impressed with their speed for their age. As they’ve grown, they’ve developed into two of the top handful of moguls skiers for the Missoula Freestyle Team.
Oliver, 14, and Harrison, 16, get some of their competitive spirit from going up against each other. But they also find some drive and joy in racing against friends and in their internal competition to outdo their previous best.
“It just always pushed us to our limit,” Harrison said. “It’s fun competing against everyone you know, too.”
Oliver added: “The competition between us pushes you, drives you to be your ultimate best. When you’re skiing and training, you really just want to make yourself the best, not really too much the competition.”
Both of them qualified for junior nationals last year, but neither sounded too pleased with their placing there. Oliver thought he was 60th or 70th, but it was such a low finish that he didn’t remember the exact number. Harrison crashed on his run, so all he could describe it as was “pretty disappointing.”
Oliver and Harrison are aiming to get back to junior nationals this season. On Saturday, Oliver was third overall, first among Missoula skiers and won his age group in singles, scoring a 67.25. Harrison was eighth overall, fifth among Missoula skiers and fifth in his age group with a score of 60.57.
“Both of them went to junior nationals last year and have a good chance to return,” Power said. “Harrison likes hunting and fishing, so he’s missed some practices. Oliver looks more to train and get in extra time. But they’re both strong skiers. They know how to show out well at big events.”
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Idaho girl sweep titles
Idaho’s Tillie Babcock, 13, won the dual moguls on Sunday to go with her singles title on Saturday. She beat Bozeman’s Talia Gilpin in the championship run, 45.01-44.63.
Missoula’s Emma Puiggari, 12, was the top local finisher, taking third place in duals. She did a spread eagle and a daffy on her two jumps down the slope.
“I think that the duals pushes you more to do your best,” Puiggari said. “When you do the singles, you don’t really have as much drive to do it. In duals, it definitely pushes you to go faster and have better airs.”
Puiggari was also the highest area placer in singles, finishing third, in her first competition of the season. She said she finished last season with a fall that left her passed out.
“I thought I did good,” Puiggari said of her weekend. “I tried my hardest. I definitely had a lot more competition this year than I’ve had any other year.”
Bozeman boys sweep titles
Bozeman’s Renner Skidmore won the duals moguls on Sunday, making it a city sweep as teammate Dane Alexander won the singles moguls on Saturday.
Skidmore, 16, beat out Alexander, 16, who fell down on the landing from his first jump during their head-to-head championship run. Skidmore won duals, 30-29.40, and Alexander won singles, 75.05-72.41.
“It just took confidence,” Skidmore said of his mindset heading into the race against his friend and rival of nine years, not expecting Alexander to fall.
“It was death or glory,” Alexander said.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect corrected scoring.