Cabral fourth at Junior Nationals |

Cabral fourth at Junior Nationals

David Gignilliat

To be the best, you have to beat the best.

In many sports, developing athletes often subscribe to this mantra, continuing to test their skills against tougher competition as they raise the bar for themselves.

Freestyle skiing is no exception, as several local youth racers found out last weekend at the Junior Nationals at Bogus Basin Ski Resort in Boise, Idaho. Nine freestylers – seven from the Heavenly Ski Team and two from Sierra-at-Tahoe’s squad – made the week-long trip northeast for the annual event.

Sierra’s Travis Cabral was the top South Shore finisher, nailing down fourth place overall in the moguls competition. Precocious freestyler Amber Ramos (Sierra) continued to belie her young age (12 years old) by scoring fifth overall in the women’s aerial competition. Cristie Tibbetts (Heavenly) captured sixth place in womens moguls, while Brad Lipovsky (Heavenly) earned every bit of a hard-fought 12th spot in men’s acro competition.

“I’m pretty satisfied with their efforts,” said Heavenly Ski Team coach Gere Crawford, who is prepping the moguls course for the Freestyle World Cup event at Heavenly this weekend. “A couple of them I would have liked to see do better, but that’s (the nature of) competition.”

Rounding out top area performances were: Robin Ballachey (Heavenly), womens moguls, 11th overall; Ramos, womens moguls, 14th overall; Ryan Hickey (Heavenly), mens moguls and aerials, 46th and 12th overall, respectively; Derek Dimitri (Heavenly), mens moguls, 57th overall; Tyler Bardford (Heavenly), mens aerials, 30th overall; Jason Scott (Heavenly), mens aerials, 33rd overall.

Junior National competitions provide rare opportunities for Tahoe’s elite youth skiers to go against the best in the country. Some skiers may take their lumps, but it’s worth it in the long run, Crawford said. “It’s definitely a learning experience for these guys. Very rarely do the kids from this area have the opportunity to face the really elite racers from all over the country,” Crawford said. “They train with them and learn with them all week. Their level of skiing improves dramatically during the week.”

Notes: Cabral will try to build on his fourth-place finish at Bogus Basin when he travels to Zurich, Switzerland for the Freestyle Junior World Competition Feb. 1-8.

“It’s a lot harder for me going to Europe and competing there,” said Cabral, who will be making his first trip to the European continent. The Junior Worlds are often proving grounds for future World Cup racers and Olympians.

“The racers in Europe are world class and I feel it’s going to be a tough competition,” Cabral said. “I am going to have to push myself even more to go against the world.”

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