Wednesday, March 26, 2003
Steamboat Springs In the last two seasons, Travis Mayer has won an Olympic silver medal, climbed onto the World Cup podium seven times and placed his name on a short list of elite freestyle skiers.
But now it's time for a rest.
Mayer plans to pull back next winter -- training more, but competing less. How much less remains to be seen, but Mayer isn't planning on competing in a full World Cup schedule. He said Tuesday that he will be more selective when it comes to the World Cup events he attends -- and there will be fewer of them.
"Sometimes it's easy to get your identity wrapped up in being a World Cup skier," Mayer said. "I enjoy skiing, but I also want to enjoy living my life. I've given a lot of time to skiing the past couple of years, now I need a little time to find Travis."
It isn't unusual for U.S. Ski Team members to have a down period between Olympic years, Mayer said. If skiers don't find a little time to relax they either burn out or wear out simply from skiing too much, he said.
He hopes slowing down next season will allow him to pursue his education, improve his skiing with more intense training and ignite a fire in his heart that will carry him to the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Torino, Italy.
The plan includes spending some time at Cornell catching up on class work, taking some extra classes at Colorado Mountain College when he is training in Steamboat and spending a lot of time at a local water ramp perfecting new aerial tricks.
Mayer said there is almost no time during the course of the season to tweak his skiing because he is normally too busy just competing.
He said being on the World Cup tour makes keeping pace with the quickly changing sport difficult. Most of the top skiers use the summer season to change their run or work on specific weaknesses.
Mayer's showing last year would be considered a successful run by most athletic standards, but then Mayer isn't like most athletes.
"I guess it's been a pretty good year," Mayer said. "But when I look back, there were lots of ups and downs."
The ups included Mayer collecting five World Cup podiums in four months. He earned one second- and four third-place finishes -- including a bronze medal at the World Championships in Park City.
In his 12 World Cup starts last season, the Steamboat skier only missed the podium three times. He placed third in the final World Cup of the year in Voss, Norway, on March 21 and is coming off a successful showing (a first in duals and a third in singles) at the National Championships in Montana.
But the run was also disappointing for the New York native who moved to Steamboat to chase his Olympic dream several years ago.
"It was a good season, but I set some pretty high goals for myself after Salt Lake City," he said. "Maybe a little too high."
Mayer said he felt like he missed opportunities this year to collect a World Cup win and to win a World Championship gold medal so close to home.
He has been happy with the results during his most recent run, but admits the competition, travel and added pressures of being an Olympic silver medal winner have taken their toll.
He is hoping that a short break will help him renew his love of skiing and make it fun for him -- once again.
But either way, he made it clear that his ultimate goal is to make it back to the Olympics and hopefully add to his collection of medals.