Thursday, January 30, 2003
Olympic silver medalist Travis Mayer overcame a slight mistake on his top air Wednesday en route to placing third in a qualifying round at the 2003 World Championship Mogul Finals.
Lowell Whiteman School graduate Emiko Torito and current Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club member Toby Dawson of Vail also made the finals cut.
The top 16 men and women will go head to head in the title round, which will begin with the women's competition at 10 a.m. today at the Deer Valley Resort in Utah. The men's event will follow at 11 a.m.
"I really struggled on the top jump. Coming into the top jump, I got really off balance and I landed a 360 on one leg, and kind of landed a little bit to the left, which is rare for me," Mayer said.
"When I hit the ground, I knew I had made a pretty big mistake and I had to make it up somewhere, so I really charged and I skied the middle really fast ... I was really happy with how I could rally despite the fact I had made a mistake, and I was pretty pleased with how I skied after the top air."
Mayer finished third in the qualifying run with a score of 26.09 but is hoping to move up today when he steps into the starting gate for the finals.
American teammate Travis Cabral of California earned the top spot in Wednesday's qualifier with a score of 26.77. Finland's Mikko Ronkainen followed him at 26.17 and Dawson, who joined the Winter Sports Club at the start of the season, is sitting in fourth after losing a tiebreaker to Mayer.
"You don't remember who won the semis, so it's a new day Friday," moguls coach Don St. Pierre said. "However, I think it's critical to be in a good striking position -- you want to be in the top six or seven going into the finals."
Luckily for the coach, the top seven currently include four American men (Cabral, Mayer, Dawson and Jeremy Bloom, who is seventh) and three women.
Olympic gold medalist Kari Traa of Norway led the pack of 16 women who qualified for the mogul finals.
American Michelle Roark was in second, Shannon Bahrke is in sixth and Torito is in seventh after the first run.
"We have so much depth on our team, so even if one person doesn't have the run of their life, there's so many people who can step up and take it home for us," Torito said. "I think our development programs are really good. Every different region and mountain -- mountains like Steamboat -- have really good development programs so young kids can enjoy the sport and have an opportunity to grow in it."
The 19-year-old Cabral, who has won two World Cup events this year, including the opener in Tignes, France, and another at Whiteface Mountain Jan. 18, said he wanted to do well in his first World Championship start.
"I came into this event just wanting to ski well," Cabral said. "These are the first World champs for me and I wanted to lay down a couple of good runs, and one of them is over, so it was a good day. I definitely had the run I wanted."
Cabral, like most of the other athletes in the mogul competition, said Deer Valley's World Championship course is one of the toughest courses of the year because of its length and the abrupt moguls. But those characteristics may have helped Mayer in his run.
"They changed the course a little bit as far as the separation between the jumps, but other than that, it's pretty much the same course (as the Olympics). The same guy, Timmy Meagher, made this and the Olympic course. He pushes the moguls up as opposed to some (snowcat) drivers who push from the top down, so it produces really abrupt moguls, but it's something I've skied for a lot of years and I'm pretty comfortable with. More important than (the moguls) is just the sheer length. A lot of the courses we ski on the World Cup are really short and they showcase jumping and not a whole lot of skiing, so this course was really refreshing."
Mayer, Dawson and Torito will all get the chance to showcase their talents today, as the freestyle World Championships continue in Deer Valley.