After spending most of last ski season focusing on his college studies, Steamboat Springs freestyle skier Travis Mayer returned to the World Cup podium Thursday with a silver-medal performance in Tignes, France.
Defending World Cup champion Janne Lahtela of Finland won the event with 26.45 points. The second-place Mayer (25.91 points) led a pack of Americans to top results. Other top U.S. finishers were California's Travis Cabral (25.41) in third, and Breckenridge's Luke Westerlund (25.35) in fourth. Vail's Toby Dawson, who trained in Steamboat Springs for a year, placed seventh, Vermont's David Babic was 10th, Park City's Nate Roberts was 21st, and former University of Colorado football player Jeremy Bloom finished 35th.
"I spent a lot of time on the water ramps during the summer, and I'm confident in the higher degree of difficulty with my tricks," Mayer, a 2002 Olympic silver medallist, said in a U.S. Ski Team press release.
Coach Jeff Wintersteen said he could see that that Mayer was skiing at a high level during the U.S. Ski Team's final training camp in Wolf Creek earlier this season, and he added that Mayer showed that again in Tignes.
Mayer said skipping last season to complete more studies at Cornell University worked out well. The Ivy Leaguer competed in World Cup events in the United States, finishing fourth in Lake Placid, N.Y., and 36th at Deer Valley, Utah.
"I didn't do a ton of training, but I was able to stay in contact and keep my skills up," Mayer said. "Now, my body's fresh, and I've still got confidence in my skills."
Tignes will be the only competition for the moguls team on this trip. A lack of snow in La Plagne forced organizers to cancel a dual moguls contest next week, and Tignes officials were unable to set up a duals course in time, so the Americans were limited to one event.
"It's an expensive trip," Wintersteen said. "But three podiums soften the pain a bit."