Mark McMorris

Snowboarder Mark McMorris recently won gold at the Winter X games, and he could be headed for a Sochi showdown with extreme sports legend Shaun White. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)

As Regina's Mark McMorris gets ready for the X-Games and Olympics in the coming weeks, other snowboarders in Saskatchewan are competing on the slopes where his career began. 

Mission Ridge is a winter park near Fort Qu'Appelle, which is close to an hour northeast of Regina. It held its first official snowboarding slopestyle competition Saturday for athletes between 11-year old and 16 years old. 

One of the park's co-owners, Don Williams, said it's not always easy to organize an event like this. 

Williams explains slopestyle events are rare in Saskatchewan because it's hard work getting all the snowboarders together. 

"I think it's been a tough go for them to get their association off the ground," he said. "Snowboarders are not a group that really want to be organized very badly. It's kind of more of an individual sport."

McMorris big influence on young snowboarders 

Williams also acknowledges that McMorris's influence on the participants is evident. 

"Kids are trying to emulate him and they want to be around him," said Williams. "It's such a great thing when Mark or his brother come out. The kids are just all over him. Well, so are the girls." 

Elijah Louttit says he loves to ride at Mission Ridge and was excited to take part in the competition. 

"I got to meet him [Mark McMorris] quite a few times and him and his brother are both great influences on me and got me started in this sport," he said. 

"It's pretty cool that this small hill can produce such a great person who's on the top of snowboarding right now," he continued. 

Louttit said he watches McMorris on TV and tries to practice some of his moves. 

"Just how he does some of his tricks so I can try to learn how to do them and also just to see how he keeps his composure and how he can do all the things that he does." 

Janaye Prieb, 12, was the only girl competing in the slopestyle event. 

She said she is also inspired by watching McMorris, though it's not always easy keeping up with the boys. 

"Him on the halfpipe is good," she said. "And him just doing tricks and wanting to learn those tricks." 

Prieb said she too has goals to one day compete at the X-Games or the Olympics like McMorris.