Big stakes for Tahoe bumpers in Sunday River, Maine
Representatives of the Baltimore Ravens and New York Giants aren’t the only athletes with a lot riding on Sunday.
Two bump skiers from the South Shore and one from Squaw Valley have one shot at enhancing their standing on a competitive U.S. Freestyle Ski Team on Sunday in Sunday River, Maine. Poor results could effectively bar them from major competition for the remainder of the season and thereby making it even more difficult to qualify for the Winter Games next year in Salt Lake City.
Chris Hernandez, a success on Nor-Am and pro circuits in recent years; Travis Ramos, a World Cup podium climber in the past; and 1998 gold medalist Jonny Moseley need at least top-5 finishes to be considered for the remaining prime bump events.
“This event is pretty big. It’s another chance,” Ramos said. “The main thing for this season is to put myself in position where I can qualify for the Olympics next year.”
Going into the season, Ramos was running out of chances. He wasn’t on the U.S. Team and needed to go through the pressure-packed U.S. Selection Event again to qualify for two World Cup events in the states.
He responded by finishing ninth at Deer Valley, Utah, but team officials decided against giving him any additional World Cup starts. The “snub” surprised Moseley.
“Travis was second American in the last World Cup in the (states), but he didn’t get to go to the next event,” Moseley said. “If he does well at Sunday River and gets a top 10, he’ll probably be in good position in the World Cup standings. At least I have the team status. He doesn’t have any of that, but he has results.”
Moseley’s return to the team after a three-year absence has been bumpy at best. Like Ramos, he was only afforded two World Cup starts. Back spasms and a crash led to a disappointing 52nd-place finish at Deer Valley, and uncertain status for the remainder of the season.
“I basically have to show I can get near the podium. It’s definitely not easy,” Moseley said.
Hernandez is a late addition to this weekend’s World Cup, and he’s just looking to make the most of the opportunity. Otherwise, he’ll retreat to the Nor-Am circuit and try to make some money as a pro in the Sprint Bumps & Jumps events.
“To get to Japan I definitely have to qualify for finals and get at least top 5,” said Hernandez, whose best World Cup finish is 21st. “For me to go to Japan, I would have to beat Jonny and Travis Ramos.”
The World Cup shifts to Japan following the stop in Sunday River, Maine.
Hernandez, attended the Deer Valley race as the first alternate, waiting in the wings in case one of his U.S. teammates suffered an injury. Even though he didn’t get the opportunity to compete, he used the time to train at the venue and now an injury has created a chance he didn’t expect.
“I feel good. I’m skiing better than I ever have, and I’ve never done as much training as I have this year,” said Hernandez, who teamed with his roommate, Johnny Pares, to tie for ninth in last weekend’s Red Bull Ultra-Cross at Squaw Valley USA.
Knowing that he skied the bottom half of the course out of control at his last World Cup and still finished ninth gives Ramos a boost of confidence going into Sunday’s big event.
“I’ve got a bunch of new things in the works. Hopefully, I’ll be able to bring it out on this course in Sunday River,” he said.
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