Making it to this year's J4 Junior Olympic Championships in Winter Park was a goal shared by most of the skiers in coach Scott Wither's program.
But Steamboat's Greta Byrne had an even bigger goal when she left for the races.
"I was probably more nervous than last year, because I knew I had a shot at making it to Whistler," Greta said.
Last week, Greta joined 20 Steamboat skiers, including the entire girls team, for the trip to compete in the super-G, giant slalom and slalom events at the Junior Olympic Championships. By the end of the week, Greta found herself near the top of some of the best 11- and 12-year-old skiers in the country.
"I was really happy with my results," Greta said. "It was a fun week."
Greta placed second in the overall standings with a ninth-place showing in super-G, first- and seventh-place finishes in giant slalom, and fourth- and second-place finishes in slalom. The results were more than enough to earn the Steamboat racer an invitation to the Whistler races later this season in Canada.
But Wither said Greta wasn't the only local racer reaching her goals last week. Nearly all the skiers from the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club reached or exceeded goals during the end-of-season championships.
"We ask our skiers to set goals at the start of the season, and almost all of them list the Junior Olympics," Wither said. "We always stress that the results are not the most important thing. The cool thing is how these young racers overcome new challenges and how they respond to the pressures of trying to achieve a goal that they've been working toward all season."
Several Steamboat skiers enjoyed top finishes, and others earned the coveted "Bibbo Awards" that stress improvement by rewarding skiers who make the biggest jump from their starting position in the race to their final result.
The week opened Thursday with the super-G event.
Ciar Colgan led three Steamboat racers in the top 10 with her sixth-place finish. She completed the course in a time of 1:00.04 and was followed by Grace Whelihan in eighth and Greta in ninth. Sarah White placed 11th, and Rachel Dobell was 18th. Steamboat's Lily Wasser moved from the 71st start position to 29th to win the Bibbo Award.
Top Steamboat boys finishers were Thomas Lyon in 10th and Jeffery Gay in 17th. Steamboat's Matthew Sobeck, who started the race in the 85th slot, put together one of his best races of the season to place 34th. The 51-spot shift earned the Steamboat racer a Bibbo Award.
Greta set the pace in the first giant slalom race Friday by winning the event in a time of 59.41. Ciar placed fifth with a time of 1:01.55, Sarah was seventh in 1:02.36, Hannah Young was 14th, and Natalie Pearl placed 15th. Rachel earned her second top-20 finish of the week, placing 19th.
Lexie Baden won the Bibbo Award after starting in 69th and moving to 27th in the first race -- an improvement of 42 spots. She also made a huge jump in the second event, in which she moved from 70th to 31st in the final results.
In the second race, Ciar finished fifth in a time of 58.33 to lead the Steamboat team. Greta finished seventh, and Sarah finished eighth. Grace was 12th, Natalie was 15th, Hannah was 17th, Corinne Landy was 18th, Rachel was 19th and Cassady Daley was 20th.
In the boys' first race, Jeffery Gay led the Steamboat finishers with an 11th-place finish, and Connor Bernard was 18th. In the second race, Thomas was the top Steamboat finisher in 14th, and Connor finished in 20th.
The week came to an end March 18 with four slalom runs, all of which were won by Buck Hill racers.
Kiltie Finsand won the first race in a time of 40.67. Greta was fourth, Ciar was seventh, and Sarah finished in 10th. Natalie was 12th, Corinne placed 15th, Grace was 16th, Rachel was 17th, and Ali Pougiales, who started the race in 64th, finished 18th. Ali won a Bibbo Award for her performance.
In the second race, Greta finished second in 39.08. Ciar was sixth, Natalie was ninth, and Sarah was 11th. Corinne raced to 15th, Cassady was 16th and Rachel placed 19th. Hannah was 22nd.
"For most of these athletes, this was their first real exposure to competitive ski racing -- at least at this level," Wither said. "The way they handled the pressure was amazing. They all displayed great sportsmanship and good team work."
Racers who qualified to compete in Winter Park were 12-year-olds Greta, Connor, Ciar, Cassady, Rachel, Jeffrey, Corinne, Thomas, Natalie, Grace, Sarah and Hannah. Eleven-year-olds included Katie Hostetler, Murphy Roberts, Julia Cooper and Ali Pougiales.