Monday, February 13, 2006
When Travis Mayer steps to the top of the Sauze d'Oulx mogul course Wednesday, it will be in the shadow of gold medal favorites such as Jeremy Bloom.
But Mayer doesn't mind -- he already has his Olympic medal.
Mayer won the silver medal in Utah four years ago. He will take a similar approach to that competition, when the media focused on Olympic gold medalist Jonny Moseley and Bloom. The latter received a great deal of attention because he was skiing moguls and playing college football at virtually the same time.
"I'm approaching the Oly-mpics as I approached the last Olympics, as an unknown commodity," Mayer said. "I liked it. I didn't have to carry the burden of expectations or have too many media distractions."
Mayer said there might be more expectations of him this year but that he isn't putting pressure on himself.
"I don't have any expectations for myself. This is going to be my last competition, so I hope to enjoy it and leave the sport with one last hurrah. Mentally, I'm not making this event any more stressful than that."
Mayer feels like he has been skiing well this season but admits being hampered by a few nagging injuries.
"It has been difficult to consistently train and compete, but I expect to manage and focus (through the Olympics)," Mayer said.
The men's mogul event is scheduled to take place under the lights at Sauze d'Oulx on Wednesday. There will be a qualifying round, and the top 16 skiers will advance to the finals.
Mayer and Bloom will be among the favorites to medal along with Vail's Toby Dawson, who also trained in Steamboat for a year. Travis Cabral, of South Lake Tahoe, Calif., will fill the final slot.
Moguls coach Don St. Pierre feels as though the men have a good chance to bring home some hardware from the Olympic Games. Especially with skiers such as Mayer and Bloom leading the way. Bloom won an Olympic qualifier in Steamboat in Dec-ember 2005, and Mayer was a close second.
"I like our chan--ces, and if all the stars line up, it could happen," St, Pierre said. "I think all the pre-Olympic hype is exaggerated."
Regardless of the results, Mayer said this will be his final competition, and he will leave the sport knowing he has done something few have -- he realized his dreams.
"To a large degree, I have lived many of my childhood dreams and chased my life's passion to the pinnacle of sport. Whether I do well or poorly, I am grateful and proud of my skiing career."