Steamboat skiers take top finishes in Winter Park

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— Julia Cooper stepped onto the podium and several of her Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club teammates recorded top finishes at the 2007 Chevrolet Rocky and Central J4 Junior Olympic Championships.

The events, which drew a field of 160 11- and 12-year-old racers, opened last Wednesday with super-G training. On Thursday, the racers hit the course at the Winter Park Resort. The giant slalom took place Friday, and the events wrapped up Saturday with the slalom.

Cooper set the mark for the SSWSC with a third-place finish in the super-G. Teammate Ali Pougiales finished seventh in the race, Katie Hostetler was 10th, Lily Wasser was 14th and Samantha Stamp was 18th. Caroline Byrne (35th), Katie Arnis (36th) and Lexie Baden (45th) also raced in the girls' events.

Steamboat skiers also fared well in Friday's giant slalom race with Pougiales leading the charge with an 11th-place finish in the morning and sixth in the afternoon. Hostetler fell in the morning, but rebounded to take fourth in the afternoon.

The slalom took place Saturday with Cooper earning fifth in the morning. Teammate Hostetler was ninth in the morning slalom race and fourth in the afternoon. Hostetler finished fourth overall in the final results, Cooper was seventh and Pougiales was 10th.

On the boys' side, it was Alex Barounos highlighting the Steamboat results. Barounos posted several top finishes including a ninth in Friday afternoon's giant slalom, and a 10th in the morning. He also posted a 14th in the super-G and 18th in the slalom and a 25th in the slalom to finish 26th in the overall results.

Coach Scott Wither said he was thrilled with the top results, but said it was some of the other top awards Winter Sports Club skiers won that impressed him the most.

Wylie Brownell-Patty won the sportsmanship award and three Steamboat ski racers earned bibbo awards - which are given to racers who make the biggest jump from their starting position. Winners included Erik Halsnes on the boys' side, and Byrne on the girls' side. Steamboat's Samantha Stamp won the overall bibbo queen award and earned a custom Bode Miller Briko helmet from Barilla.

"This is what we (the Winter Sports Club) is all about," Wither said. "Skiing hard, and being a good sport is what we are trying to instill in our skiers."

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