Former skiing champion finds his balance on canvas |

Former skiing champion finds his balance on canvas

Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Holding a piece titled "Short Fuse," former national freestyle skiing champion Travis Ramos has replaced skiing with painting.

Travis Ramos knows action when he sees it – and now the former professional skier wants others to see it, too.

Ramos, a 2001 World Cup winner and 2002 national champion in freestyle moguls, became an oil-painting artist last October in between his other job working on a fire crew.

“People would think being a skier I would be totally into landscape art, but what I’m doing is completely different. I’m all about action,” he said, going into his studio at his home at the base of Echo Summit.

The view spans an open hillside which was covered with fresh powder Sunday.

“Look, there’s a powder day going on, and I’m not even interested,” he said, turning his attention elsewhere while techno music played in the background.

“These are my girls,” he said.

Ramos, who juggles about three or four pieces at a time, picked up one of paintings called “Short Fuse.” In it, a lanky woman with orange eyes holds a stick of lit dynamite in her hand.

He opened his sketch book to a page where her twin appeared. He plans to label the drawing “Nuclear Winter” and paint her eyes purple.

Aside from the work in blue, fire seems to be a recurring theme.

“Hot stepper,” as he calls his favorite piece, shows another thin woman stepping out of a roaring inferno with small blazes placed at her footsteps.

He looks at his creation with fresh eyes.

“Some people think she’s walking out of fire, but my interpretation is she created the fire,” he said.

“Sex Pistol,” “Hot Lips” and “Electric Kiss” round out the list – each taking about 40 night-owl hours to complete.

At night, he gets restless and productive.

“I get in these mindsets where I can’t sleep, so I paint,” he said. “When I was skiing, all my days were spoken for,” he said.

Free form has replaced freestyle – which highlights moves like crossing skis in a pose on a jump.

Calling an office job “incarceration,” innovation is the name of the game for Ramos. He tends to follow his heart to his passion.

And it shows in his work, which has some parallels to his former competitive skiing career.

“When I was skiing, I was definitely known for having innovative lines and innovative jumps. That’s my calling card,” he said.

He sat on the bed, crossed his legs and clutched his forehead as he spoke about how skiing and painting are alike.

“These paintings are the same in the sense (of competitive skiing). The time I’ve put into painting is like training for a good athletic performance. It takes a lot of training and thought to cultivate, but then you have a painting to be proud of,” he said.

And just as there’s no room for error on the slopes when you’re screaming down the hill, precision is required in some spots on a canvas with definitive lines.

“Sometimes I’m in my head; when I’m making a brush stroke and need to be precise, I go into the competitive zone,” he said of a sport he started at age 2.

Ramos reflects on his 13-year-plus ski career like it was yesterday, despite his last competition being three years ago. The Tahoe homegrown skier once wowed the crowd with his death-defying moves. A knee injury slowed him down.

“When I quit skiing, I lost myself. That was my identity for so many years. I feel like this is bringing me back. I’ve learned it’s not what you do but how you do it,” he said.

Ramos had a chance meeting with Godard, the artist. He’s excited about the opportunity to display his work, due to soon go in e-mails to the dealer.

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