Ballachey well enough to win |

Ballachey well enough to win

Despite a nagging knee injury that continues to keep her at less than 100 percent, U.S. Ski Team member Brooke Ballachey finished first at Wednesday’s Far West freestyle mogul event at Squaw Valley’s North Bowl.

Ballachey, a first-year A team member from South Lake Tahoe, topped the local field with a 24.70 score. The competition also featured fellow U.S. Ski Team member Chris Hernandez, who placed second with a 25.68 mark, still recovering from last season’s ACL tear.

Other notable finishers for Heavenly mogulists were Travis Woodcock with a 23.03 score (sixth in seniors, 11th overall) and Ryan Hickey at 22.86 (third in the J-2 division, 12th overall). The next closest finisher was Jonathan Strohm, who placed 24th overall with a 19.01 score. Unfortunately, Strohm tore an ACL during Wednesday’s competition and will have surgery next week. On Tuesday, Ballachey, Hernandez and U.S. freestyler Travis Ramos conducted a ski clinic to raise money to offset team costs.

Ballachey, like many area racers, has been plagued recently by a variety of knee problems. The 19-year-old mogul specialist originally suffered an ACL tear nearly two years ago at a 1997 event in Breckenridge, Colo. More recently, Ballachey hurt her quadricep in a crash Dec. 15 while training with the U.S. Ski Team in Utah. Since her quad “wasn’t firing well,” Ballachey said she “tweaked” her knee a few days later, suffering a partial tear in her meniscus. The meniscus is a disk of cartilage that connects the articulating ends of the knee’s joints.

A magnetic resonance image test in Salt Lake City confirmed the tear, which doctors hope will heal on its own. Ballachey has continued to battle the “confusing” ailment and is still training with the national team. The 5-foot-11 racer said she is competing at “80 to 85 percent” and has to “hold back” on some of her jumps and turns.

“She’s good enough that she can actually hold back and still do pretty well,” said Heavenly Ski Foundation freestyle coach Jere Crawford, who continues to prep a mogul course for the World Cup event, which comes to Heavenly Ski Resort Jan. 22-24.

Ballachey said she plans to travel to Mount Tremblant, Canada, for the World Cup season-opener Jan. 8-10. The World Cup circuit returns to the States Jan. 15-17 in Steamboat Springs, Colo., before arriving at the South Shore a week later.

Notes: In another area race, South Shore skier Travis Cabral finished

first overall (25.68) in a Wednesday mogul event at Sierra-at-Tahoe; Amber Ramos, 12, rounded out area finishers with a first-place mark in the J-4 group (18.28), good enough for seventh overall.

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