Bitter rivals become best of friends
They despised each other long before their first encounter. But after actually meeting one another their relationship quickly evolved into toleration. Now U.S. Freestyle Ski Team members Travis Cabral and Jeremy Bloom are best friends.
“A month before junior nationals my first year, I remember opening a ski magazine and seeing this little punk talking about how he was the best 12-year-old skier in the nation and I was like, ‘We’ll see,’ ” recalled the 18-year-old Bloom, who leads the Papa John’s Bumps & Jumps moguls series heading into tour’s final stop Saturday at Heavenly Ski Resort.
Neither one of them won nationals that year. Travis Mayer beat them both, with South Shore’s Cabral finishing second, one place ahead of Loveland, Colo.’s Bloom.
“We hated each other for about a year, then we got used to switching back and forth between him winning and me winning,” said the 17-year-old Cabral, who scored his first World Cup podium finish in January in Japan. “We’ve become good friends.”
During the 1999 U.S. Team Selection Event at Squaw Valley USA, Bloom stayed with the Cabrals in Meyers. At the time, they were vying for one of the precious few spots to ski in World Cup events in the U.S. With so much at stake, some athletes would have kept the home-hill edge to themselves, but not Cabral.
On Wednesday, Cabral picked up Bloom at the Reno-Tahoe Airport. It cut into his training time on Heavenly’s Gunbarrel Run, but the 90-minute drive gave them some extra time to hang out together.
Their friendship has become more of a brotherhood because Cabral celebrates Bloom’s triumphs as if they were his own.
Last fall, Cabral attended one of Bloom’s state playoff football games in Colorado. Bloom dazzled college scouts that night with a four-touchdown performance. However, Cabral’s memory of his buddy’s career game was sketchy because he was busy visiting with several cheerleaders.
“He’s an awesome athlete, for sure, and I was watching him the whole time,” Cabral kidded. “Anything he puts his mind to, he goes for it. It’s a gift that not too many people have, but when you have it, you tend to take it a long ways.”
While Cabral isn’t too keen on the idea of beating Bloom on Gunbarrel on Saturday, that doesn’t mean he won’t get in his licks beforehand.
“I’m going to take him to (Tahoe Gymnastics) the night before the contest because he’s not very good and that’s a way of beating him before the contest,” Cabral said.
Bloom carries a five-point lead over Squaw Valley’s Tony Basile into Saturday’s finale.
“I have to ski well because Tony is an absolutely incredible duals skier,” Bloom said. “Hopefully I don’t see him in the earlier rounds.
“I see that Chevy Trailblazer in my head every day, so hopefully I can get the job done.”
Those are the wheels Bloom wants under him as he cruises into Boulder next fall. Colorado University has given Bloom a full-ride to play wide receiver. After catching 49 passes for 1,116 yards and 12 touchdowns and leading Loveland to a state championship, Bloom found a major college that doesn’t mind if spends his time away from the field skiing the tricky minefield of bumps.
“They think that it’s cool that I’m a skier and are willing to help me work around it,” Bloom said. “People ask me all the time how I got involved with football and skiing. While everyone was playing baseball, I was up skiing. I’ve just been lucky enough where I got to pursue the both of them.”
And what if Bloom looks across the starting gate atop Gunbarrel early Saturday and sees his best friend next to him?
“We’ve never met head to head in duals, and I’m actually hoping we don’t,” Bloom said. “If we meet, hopefully it’s in the finals, and if we meet earlier we’ll both have a lot of fun.”
With Bloom so close to winning a new Chevy Trailblazer, which goes to the series champion, Cabral thought about skipping the final bumps event at Heavenly.
“Hopefully, we don’t have to go up against other until the last round. I’m definitely pulling for him,” Cabral said.
Bloom realizes Cabral could prevent him from being the king of the hill, but wants his buddy in the competition.
“We’re best friends on the road, and I’d never want him to do that,” Bloom said. “It’s a pretty nice thing for him to offer, but we’re in a sport right now that doesn’t have too much financial support, so when you get an opportunity like this you have to do it.”
Papa Johns Bumps & Jumps Series leaders
(through 2nd of three events)
Pl. Skier Points
1. Jeremy Bloom 29 points
2. Tony Basile 24
3. David Babic 21
4. Brady Johnson 18
4. Travis Mayer 18
6. Pierra Rousseau 16
7. Jerry Grossi 15
8. Stephan Rochon 14
9. Chris Hernandez 13
9. Ean Smith 13
9. Michael Morse 13
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