The Red Lodge rodeo grounds were packed with skiers and horses over the weekend as the national finals of Ski-Joring wrapped up Sunday afternoon.
Ski-Joring combines horseback riding with skiing, and people traveled from all over the region to compete in this year's national finals.
The two youngest competitors in the entire field were the Alverson sisters out of Livingston, and they've been competing in the unique sport for as long as they can remember.
“I honestly don’t remember much from the first event," Phoebe Alverson said Sunday morning. "I was really young. I just remember as we kept going to more and more and meeting new people it was just super fun."
Phoebe (15) and her older sister Fiona (17) first participated in Ski-Joring when they were less than ten years old. In their early days, they found themselves competing exclusively with adults.
“We were really young competing against only adults," Fiona said. "Like, I don’t think there was another kid at the event."
Still the sisters showed a lot of promise and quickly developed their skills. Soon, they were moved into higher skill divisions, but most importantly, they fell in love with the sport.
“When we moved up to Novice, we were the only kids in Novice," Fiona said. "They literally had to make the exception for us to go into Novice."
Now, about a decade later, the sisters are still entering competitions together. Not only that, but the youngsters are holding their own.
“They’ve routinely been in the top ten on a lot of these events," Phoebe and Fiona's father Dennis Alverson said. "They’ve developed this confidence where I don’t think I could’ve given them that confidence anywhere else or in any other atmosphere."
And while their age is astonishing, that isn't the only characteristic about them that sticks out. The Alverson sisters are one of the few sibling duos that enter these events.
“There aren’t really any other sibling duos that compete with each other anymore," Phoebe said. "So, it is pretty cool that we have this inner thing that we do together."
Typically, Fiona is the one riding the horse, while Phoebe holds onto the rope and skies behind her. The tandem has to work together in order to make sure that the skier can hit every jump and make it through every gate.
Fiona said that while there aren't many sibling duos, she believes that they might have an advantage because of it.
"In order to find success, you need communication and trust," Fiona said. "I think it works out well because we know each other well and can be pretty honest with each other about what we need to do."
And while it might seem like just a sport to most, for the Alversons it's a measuring stick of how far they've come.
“We’ve been doing this for so much longer than it feels like," Phoebe said. "Just our growth through it has been pretty cool."