Mayer recharges batteries

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Two days after winning his first World Cup, Steamboat Springs mogul skier Travis Mayer was back home, finishing his laundry and preparing for what promises to be the most demanding road trip of the season.

"I flew in to Steamboat for a couple of days to recover and get ready for the next several weeks," Mayer said Tuesday from his Steamboat home. "This is going to be a tough one. We have a competition every weekend from now through March."

Although living on the road will be difficult, Mayer is looking forward to the next couple of months.

"I've never skied better," Mayer said. "My speed, my turns and my jumps are all working right now, and it feels really good."

Thanks to his victory Saturday in Lake Placid, N.Y., Mayer is leading the World Cup standings with 230 points. Finland's Janne Lahtela is second with 174 points.

But Mayer said it's too early to start thinking about an overall title -- the tour has completed just three of the 12 events on this year's schedule.

"You have to take the World Cup standings with a grain of salt right now. It's still early, and our sport is rough on the body," Mayer said. "It's tough to ski at the same level all season, but I'm feeling good now, and I hope that I can keep it up."

Mayer has posted two World Cup podiums this season and has not finished outside of the top four in all three events. He was second Dec. 16 in Tignes, France, and fourth Jan. 9 in Mont Tremblant, Quebec.

But none of the finishes compare to his effort last week in Lake Placid.

A good-sized cheering section greeted Mayer, who was born in upstate New York. Many of his childhood friends and family were at the bottom of the run Saturday to watch him ski.

Mayer also had to overcome adversity en route to the win. He skipped Thursday's training round because he needed a rest and he knew that he still had Friday to prepare. But freezing rain late Thursday night forced Friday's training session to be canceled. The rain also made conditions hard and icy on competition day.

"It was out of my control," Mayer said. "I just had to relax and then give it my all on competition day."

He said he entered the event with no real expectations. He used a brief training session before the competition to prepare and pick a line.

That, apparently, was preparation enough for the 2002 Olympic silver medallist.

He led the qualifying round and then threw a D-spin off the top air and a traditional 720 on the bottom air to win the event.

The traditional 720 is a difficult maneuver and typically is thrown on the top air where speeds are slower. Mayer said everything had to be perfect to land a 720 and score well. He admitted that his could have been a little better, but it scored well with the judges.

"There's no room for error," Mayer said. "It's my goal to perfect it, so I can use it in every competition."

Mayer returned to Steamboat on Sunday and has been busy getting ready for a trip that will take him from British Columbia to Switzerland the next couple of months. There will be stops in Utah, Japan, Italy and Norway along the way.

Although winning World Cups is Mayer's main goal right now, his ultimate goal is earning a trip back to the Olympic Games, which will take place in Torino, Italy, in just more than a year. Mayer won the silver medal in Park City, Utah, in 2002 and is hoping for another shot in 2006.

With teammates such as Jeremy Bloom, Travis Cabral and Toby Dawson, Mayer knows he is going to have to stay on top of his game.

--To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209

or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.com

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