Ballachey, Ramos serve as tour guides |

Ballachey, Ramos serve as tour guides

The World Cup is coming, the World Cup is coming, …

Actually, it’s already here as Day 1 activities saw racers from all over the world invade Heavenly Ski Resort for the first international freestyle event on the South Shore in more than 20 years.

While European and Asian teams ogled the bright lights and temptations of Stateline’s casino district and settled into their comfortable digs at the Horizon, the U.S. freestyle team got down to business.

Sort of.

After arriving in Lake Tahoe late Monday night and checking into their hotel, the Americans greeted Tuesday morning at Heavenly with intermittent practice runs on the World Cup and Gunbarrel courses. An early afternoon trip to Time Out, a local health and fitness center, pulled the team en masse off the snow-capped mountain.

“One of the hard things on tour is to find a place you can go work out everyday and keep up with training regimens,” said Travis Ramos, a member of the U.S. team and a South Shore native.

Ramos is rehabilitating a torn ACL and will miss this week’s competition. “It’s hard. A lot of times you come to places that you don’t know and there’s not much that you can do to find a place to work out.”

The team returned later in the afternoon to the Horizon headquarters, where race organizers held a preliminary coaches meeting to review the week’s timeline and entertain questions from coaches of the 32 nations represented at the event.

A U.S.-only team meeting convened down the hall later in the evening despite the notable absence of mogul star Jonny Moseley, who is nursing a muscle injury at his Squaw Valley residence.

It’s anybody’s guess what occupied the U.S. team the rest of Monday evening, though. Rest, relaxation and a trip to the hotel buffet, probably. A return trip to the gym, maybe. Sightseeing, possibly. Pulling slots at the Horizon, less likely.

Whatever the racers had in mind, though, they will have to look no further than teammates – and locals – Brooke Ballachey, Chris Hernandez and Ramos as tour guides during their week-long stay.

“It’s crazy. Usually when I go to an event, I don’t know anybody,” said Ballachey, who is coming off a fourth-place dual moguls finish at last week’s World Cup stop in Steamboat Springs, Colo. “But I know people at the casinos, and at the gyms I know people, but it’s so weird. It’s nice too, though.”

“Everybody’s been asking me, ‘Oh, what can we do in Tahoe? Where can we go?” Ballachey added.

Some U.S. teamers already have a good idea of where to go. Like inverted aerialist Brian Currutt, who admitted a fascination with Tahoe’s unique nightlife. Especially Nero’s 2000, a dance club at Caesars Tahoe, where Currutt likes to hit the floor ‘incognito’ in search of a good time.

“Tahoe’s not your typical ski town. It’s very different from the places back East,” added Currutt, a Cleveland, Ohio native.

There is a time and a place for fun, and the U.S. skiers seem to be well aware of that fact. Currutt said his game face – which, incidentally, is “usually a smile” – should be on by Wednesday afternoon.

“We’re getting ready for this weekend, gonna have some fun and hopefully Mother Nature Nature will cooperate and get us some sun by the weekend,” said Currutt, who is currently ranked second in the overall World Cup rankings. “I’m looking forward to a great week.”

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