Cabral is all grown up: In 1993, he told Sierra GM he’d be an Olympian one day |

Cabral is all grown up: In 1993, he told Sierra GM he’d be an Olympian one day

Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Travis Cabral is interviewed by RSN reporter Nami D'Angeli on the slopes of Sierra-at-Tahoe last week.

Sierra-at-Tahoe General Manager John Rice remembers the moment he met Travis Cabral like it was yesterday. In 1993, two kids named Travis walked into his office and told him they wanted to ski for his resort.

Travis Cabral, then 10 years old, and Travis Ramos, who was a bit older, flashed Rice their season passes from the last five years to prove how committed they were to his resort. Although Rice wanted to work with them, he was relatively new to the job and wasn’t sure Sierra had a freestyle program.

“So I asked them what they needed,” Rice recalled. “Travis Cabral said, ‘I need a locker.’ I said, ‘OK, we can get you a locker.’ Then he said, ‘I need a season pass.’ I said, ‘OK, we can do that, too.’ Then he finally said, ‘I need a shovel so we can build jumps.’ I said, ‘You got it.'”

At the end of that season, Travis Cabral sent Rice a videotape, like he has done at the end of every season. The tape highlighted his accomplishments that season and explained his goals for the future. Rice watched that tape again on Monday and was blown away.

“He said, on camera, that in five years he wanted to be on the U.S. Ski Team,” Rice said. “Then he said within 8 to 10 years, he wanted to be on the Olympic team. I’m watching this tape on Monday – this little kid with big ears telling me this stuff. And sure enough, he’s done it. But I don’t think people here, the people that knew him, ever doubted he could’ve gotten whatever he wanted out of life. “

Almost 13 years later, Cabral has made good on both statements.

The 22-year-old South Lake Tahoe mogul skier is set to represent the United States this month at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy. The opening ceremonies are on Friday.

“To everyone at Sierra-at-Tahoe, thank you for helping me live my dream,” Cabral said Monday via e-mail while in transit to Italy. “Thank you, Lake Tahoe, for your support. And, most of all, thank you, God, for giving me the talent and opportunity to represent Lake Tahoe and the U.S.A.”

Instead of competing last week with his teammates at a World Cup freestyle event in the Czech Republic, Cabral was back on South Shore. And, just like he did when he was 10, he asked Rice for a shovel.

“He asked, ‘Can you set me up a bump course with a couple of jumps?'” Rice said. “He was up here practicing all last week. He came off the tour and told his coaches that he wanted to sleep in his own bed and go to his home mountain and spend time with his girlfriend. He wanted to train and take a deep breath before the Olympics, because it has been his dream for so long.”

After establishing himself as one of the world’s best bump skiers the past seven years, what could Cabral possibly have been working on last week to increase his chances to win a gold medal in Torino?

“My training is basically for dialing in my style and my airs, cleaning everything up and pushing myself to go faster in the bumps,” Cabral said. “John Rice has pretty much given me his mountain. He not only gave me a pass, but the whole mountain to use for training. I am very blessed to have such an amazing ski area as my backyard.”

After that initial meeting in 1993, Travis Cabral and Travis Ramos quickly became known as “T&T,” partly because they used Sierra’s Dynamite run as their favorite venue, and partly because they were dynamite on the hill. After being overlooked four years ago at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, Ramos veered away from skiing and decided to focus on other things.

Cabral, meanwhile, was just a year away from establishing himself as the world’s best. Although he made a name for himself in 1999, when he became the youngest U.S. national moguls champion ever at the age of 15, Cabral really made history four years later.

In 2003, Cabral was crowned the World Cup overall champion and became the youngest skier ever to accomplish the feat. A year later, he became the first skier to ever win both the single and dual mogul titles at the national championships, which were held that year at Heavenly Mountain Resort.

Afterwards, Rice threw a party for Cabral, who was picked up in a limo and, once at the party, was greeted by showgirls Rice had brought over from the casinos in Stateline. There was also plenty of champagne, but then Rice realized his mistake and bought some sparkling cider.

“That’s when we realized he was only 20 years old,” Rice said. “He’s a great role model for the kids in this community. He has proven that you can dream and believe. I just remember looking at this little guy all those years ago and remember him being so focused. He’s made all of us at Sierra better people.”

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