After 11 years of hard work and dedication, Michael Lindberg is finally seeing it pay off.
Lindberg has been invited to the United State Ski Association's Alpine U-16 Junior Championships for the west region, which open Tuesday, March 19, in Alyeska, Alaska, and run through Saturday, March 23.
Obviously, earning the right to compete is a major accomplishment in the 14-year-old's life.
After his father, Steve Lindberg, introduced him to skiing at age 3, Michael knew he wanted to compete. His mother, Maria Lindberg, said they had trouble right away, because Michael wanted to go as fast as he possibly could, and usually aimed for the trees.
"My dad got me into it and wanted me to try racing," Michael said. "He set me up with the Mount Baker ski team and I was able to move up year after year and keep improving."
Lindberg was born in Whatcom County, though relocated with Maria to Seattle 11/2 years ago. Steve still lives in the area, and though she lives in Seattle, Maria still works at Windermere Real Estate in Fairhaven, and Michael spends plenty of time during the summer in Whatcom County and trains here on weekends during the winter.
This year, Michael was able to qualify for the junior championships based on his year's worth of work. He said he was selected to compete because he earned enough points at other qualifying races around the area.
This is the first year that he can compete in this race, as he will be competing with other skiers that are under the age of 16.
"I'm a little nervous," Michael said. "But I just want to get up there and do my best and have fun. I'm just going to be focusing on doing well and trusting myself before I start the first race."
Michael will compete in four events - the slalom, giant slalom, super G and downhill races.
He said slalom is his best event.
"I'm hoping to place well," Michael said. "But it is all about what kind of day you have, and I don't really know what to expect."
Michael has not been able to travel to Alyeska to scout the courses in order to prepare. Instead he has been training in Washington for the event. He said he will have one day to check out the courses before the championships take place and that he plans on using that to his advantage.
Finding the time to train can be a little difficult for him, though. His mother said she really doesn't know how he does it.
"He's got so much tenacity," Maria said. "He plays on a premier soccer team, skis and trains for skiing, plays the violin and maintains an A-minus GPA. He really is an ambitious kid."
Maria said the reason Michael is able to do all of it, though, is because he is so passionate about each one of those things. She also joked that they have overscheduled him since he was young, so he probably thinks of it as normal.
Michael said he enjoys skiing because it is an individual sport.
Unlike team sports that he competes in, with skiing, the amount of work he puts into it directly relates to the amount of results he will see. He likes the aspect of being dependent on just himself and not other people.
Maria is a little nervous about the event, but more for Michael's safety. She said during a qualifying race at Mount Bachelor in Oregon, competitors were being clocked at 60 mph.
"I am more confident now," Maria said. "He has had some major injuries, but has been able to really come back strong and be competitive. I'm not too nervous for him."
Maria said she thinks Michael could finish in the top 15 during the event, and that would be a huge accomplishment against more than 200 competitors.
This is just the beginning for Michael, though.
He said he hopes to be able to compete in skiing for a long time, and his ultimate goal is to make it to the professional level.
He understands that it will take a lot of hard work and dedication to get there, but he said he is willing to put in the work.