Cabral and Ramos: Ever since their bumpy ride began, the dream included Bumps & Jumps
Nothing can cure an unrelenting case of jet lag for Travis Ramos and Travis Cabral like Saturday’s Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Bumps & Jumps moguls contest at Heavenly Ski Resort.
Their enthusiasm for the home-staged pro event stems from years of watching former bump stars Cameron Boyle, Scott “Robo” Kauf and Brad Holmes excite fans with their twisters and daffies as the pro’s regular stop evolved from Top Gun to Bumps & Jumps.
“After years of watching Bumps & Jumps go on and wondering how I could do if I were in it, I’m finally at the starting gate with everyone else,” said the 20-year-old Ramos, who, like Cabral, is weary from spending two weekends competing in World Cup events in Japan. “My capacity to be amped up is already maxed out because it’s a pro event and one I’ve been waiting to do since I was a little kid.”
The 16-year-old Cabral, a former Bumps & Jumps forerunner, only needs the certification of a home event to lift his competitive spirit.
“It’s another competition in my hometown,” said Cabral, who was third in qualifying and 11th overall in the Heavenly World Cup last month. “It’s gonna be fun and a lot of good athletes will be there, so it’s gonna be a good competition.”
A return home couldn’t come at a better time for the Cabral and Ramos after their disappointing showings in Japan. Cabral fell in both competitions, even though he did post a 26th-place finish in the second one. Ramos’ performances were too far back to store his results in memory.
“Sometimes when I do bad like that, I don’t look where I finish,” said Ramos, who is making a fascinating return from reconstructive knee surgery.
Japanese fans immediately endeared themselves to Ramos with their enthusiasm and respect for the athletes.
“It’s outrageous,” Ramos said. “The support they give mogul skiing it’s to rock concert proportions. If you skied over to the side of the course, they were knocking over the fencing trying to touch you. If there is any way the people of Tahoe could duplicate that this weekend, it would be an amazing feat.”
But Ramos isn’t about to make a move to Japan – unless the country changes its diet.
“They have rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner and strange fish,” said Ramos, who plans to bring a sack of instant oatmeal during his next visit. “In my mind the meals didn’t have a lot of substance in them. But I’m in no way blaming my performances on the food.”
Cabral, who has two top-15 finishes in his first World Cup season, is questionable for Saturday’s event after hurting his shoulder and hip on his first spill in Japan.
“I should be fine. The hip hurts more, but the pain doesn’t matter as long as I don’t hurt it even worse,” said Cabral, who delayed his first training run on Gunbarrel run until Friday.
The duals format should benefit both Cabral and Ramos, who are in a class unto themselves in taking the quickest line down the mountain.
“In the past I’ve really liked duals a lot, but I haven’t done it in a while,” said Ramos, who stepped up onto a World Cup podium for the first time in 1998 by finishing third in duals in Chatel, France. “Speed is definitely a factor in duals, and I would have to say I’m one of the most confident people on this course, just because I’ve been down it so many times. It definitely gives Travis and I a little bit of an advantage.”
Their South Lake Tahoe friend and U.S. teammate, Chris Hernandez, likes the chance of a local skier contending for the title.
“Anyone can do it, and the South Shore guys are looking good,” said Hernandez, who won the Lake Placid moguls and is tied for third in the overall standings. “All the World Cup teams will be there, so it’s hard to call who will win. The best guy could crash on his first run.”
World Cup commitments have kept Cabral and Ramos out of the previous two Bumps & Jumps stops at Copper Mountain, Colo., and Lake Placid, N.Y. Being freed up to compete as a pro has its pluses and minuses. While $6,500 goes to the winner and $21,900 in total prize money is up for grabs, the World Cup’s best will also be present, including series leader Janne Lahtela of Finland. Lahtela took an immediate liking to the course in January, when he laid down the second-highest score in World Cup history – 28.23 – en route to victory.
“Anyone can be beaten. It’s just a matter of who does good that day, and hopefully we can,” Cabral said.
Added Ramos, “The only pressure for me is to ski a few good runs and put on a good show for the spectators.”
Qualifying opens at 10 a.m. Saturday. Only 16 bumpers advance to the finals, which start at 1 p.m. on Gunbarrel run. Spectating is free to the public.
top five aerials: 6,000, 3,200, 2,600, 2,100 and 1,850, $21, 9000 total
Moguls: first, $6,500, $3,600, $2,700, $1,600, $1.100. 21,900 total
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