Skiers can’t wait to hit the bumps
Heavenly Ski Resort lost its caviar, but the South Shore ski resort can still serve escargot to the viewing public.
By dropping a World Cup freestyle event from its 2001 calendar because of a scheduling conflict with the Super Bowl, Heavenly lost its prime TV marketing tool with skiers around the world.
But this weekend’s Papa John’s Sprint Bumps & Jumps gives Heavenly a chance to reach a national audience when CBS broadcasts the moguls and aerials competitions tape delayed March 25.
“That’s a little bit late, but it’s OK and hopefully it will drive some interest for spring skiing. In that sense, it’s invaluable for us,” said Monica Bandows, Heavenly’s director of communications.
The priceless TV exposure comes two months later with Bumps & Jumps than it did during the past two years when Heavenly hosted World Cup in late January.
“World Cup gave us three solid months of the ski season after it was shown on TV,” Bandows said. “The goal is for people to sit down, watch it, realize that the skiing looks great and decide to go to Tahoe.”
Both World Cup and Bumps & Jumps have been financial drains for Heavenly because of the costs of staffing and preparing the moguls and aerials sites as well as lift-ticket revenue losses.
“It’s definitely not a moneymaker, but the TV exposure is worth it,” Bandows said.
Local interest in Bumps & Jumps has increased in recent years with the development of the South Shore’s top three moguls skiers: Travis Ramos, Chris Hernandez and Travis Cabral.
“The locals love this event,” Bandows said. “In the past two years, besides World Cup, it’s the largest-attended spectator event. The event has such good viewing and it’s easy for people to get to.”
South Shore’s favorite sons have ascended to the upper reaches of the World Cup circuit and should help give Bumps & Jumps a jolt this weekend. Training and competition conflicts have prevented Ramos and Cabral from competing in the previous two Bumps & Jumps stops in Steamboat Springs, Colo., and Lake Placid, N.Y., while Hernandez squeezed in a fourth-place finish at Steamboat.
“It’s a lot of fun to be in front of your hometown just like in World Cup,” Cabral said. “If it were somewhere else I’d have to take a look at not competing because there’s the rest of the season to think about.”
After Jonny Moseley won the gold medal in moguls at the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, he challenged the amateur establishment by crossing over into pro events.
Consequently, the three-event Bumps & Jumps tour attracts both the up-and-coming stars like 18-year-old tour moguls leader Jeremy Bloom as well as the seasoned veterans like Moseley and aerialists Nicolas Fontaine and Eric Bergoust.
“It’s nice to look back and remember the old times where I was doing a Cossack on the top jump and thinking what it would be like to win some money in a pro event,” Cabral said. “It’s definitely a great experience to do an event like this.”
The 22-year-old Ramos grew up watching and waiting for the day he could join Cameron Boyle, Brad Holmes, Nelson Carmichael and Scott “Robo” Kauf in Top Gun. Top Gun eventually disappeared like many pro bump events sponsored by beer companies in the early 1990s, but Ramos’ dream remained intact when Bumps & Jumps filled the void at Heavenly seven years ago.
“They call it Bumps & Jumps now, but to me it’s still Top Gun from when I was 12 or 13 years old,” Ramos said. “I’m totally looking forward to it. Gunbarrel’s venue is similar to the Olympic course and I’ve been down Gunbarrel as much as anybody, except for the true face rats out there.
On top of that, I want to put on a show for the hometown crowd and possibly win some money.”
Ah yes, the money. Unless they’re top-tier members of the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team, travel expenses for competitions and camps comes out of the freestyle skiers’ pockets. As a result, the $150,000 in prize money for the three-event Bumps & Jumps series is very enticing.
“It’s a nice competition to get some money and pay the bills,” said the 17-year-old Cabral. “It’s also a good experience competing against the World Cup skiers.”
Heavenly also benefits from Bumps & Jumps repeatedly making the Lake Tahoe resort the final stop on its three-event circuit. Up for grabs Friday and Saturday is a $10,000 bonus from Papa John’s in a bump-off and jump-off between the top two moguls and aerials finishers as well as a new Chevy Trailblazer that goes to the series champions.
“As long as they want to keep coming to Heavenly, we’ll keep having them back,” Bandows said.
Papa John’s Bumps & Jumps
What: Final stop on three-event tour
When: Aerials, Friday, March 1, 2 p.m.; moguls, Saturday, March 2, elimination rounds at 10 a.m. and top 16 duals at 1 p.m.
Where: Heavenly Ski Resort, Gunbarrel Run
Cost: Free to the public
TV: March 25 on CBS
Fireworks: Friday, March 1, 7:30 p.m. over Gunbarrel Run.
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