Cabral jumps onto World Cup podium for first time
A Far West moguls event broke out at a World Cup freestyle competition Saturday in Inawashiro, Japan.
Four former Far West bumps regulars finished among the top 10 men, including Travis Cabral of South Lake Tahoe with his first World Cup podium. Cabral was third on the podium, while Sierra-at-Tahoe and U.S. teammate Travis Ramos came in fourth, former Squaw Valley bumper and 1998 gold medalist Jonny Moseley finished eighth and Heavenly alum Chris Hernandez placed a World Cup-best ninth.
Cabral, making his World Cup debut for 2001, nearly won the men’s singles with his score of 26.04 on the steep-pitched Daffy run.
“He’s happy, but he’s not jumping-up-and-down happy,” said Cabral’s dad, Dale, who talked to his son following his World Cup podium on Saturday. “It’s all part of the plan. The only place that matters is first place.”
Janne Lahtela continued Finland’s season-long dominance with his winning score of 26.17. Canadian Pierre-Alexander Rousseau denied Cabral the second step on the podium with his second-place run of 26.13.
Tahoe City’s Shannon Bahrke kept the Far West trend going on the women’s side as she landed on the podium for the first time this season in third place.
The battle for first and second on the men’s side was a tight one. Rousseau posted two impressive runs and was the favorite to take the win with only one competitor left to run. However, that competitor was Lahtela, who was looking for redemption after making a mistake last weekend at Sunday River, Maine that left him in last place among the finalists. Lahtela turned it on in Japan, making the best turns of the day and throwing in a quad air to knock Rousseau off the top podium spot.
Cabral, 17, used blazing speed – the fastest time of the day at 23.17 seconds – and huge airs to collect the best finish in his brief World Cup career. Saturday’s event was his fifth World Cup start of his career. The 1999 U.S. National moguls champion’s previous best on World Cup was an 11th last season at Heavenly Ski Resort.
Five of the top 10 finishers were Americans as South Shore’s Ramos was fourth (25.24); Ryan Riley of Steamboat Springs, Colo., was fifth (25.19); Moseley was eighth (25.15) and South Shore’s Hernandez was ninth (24.94).
Ramos, who posted his first World Cup win Jan. 28 at Sunday River, Maine, had an unmatched air score of 7.20, according to Dale Cabral.
Hernandez had the second-best qualifying score before crushing his previous World Cup-best showing of 21st by cracking the top 10 for the first time.
“Some people who were there said judges’ scoring for him was lower than it should have been,” said Heavenly bumps coach Jere Crawford, who coached Hernandez when he was with the Heavenly team. “He skis so smooth it looks likes he isn’t doing anything sometimes, while the other guys, who are herky-jerky and not as efficient, end up getting better scores. Hopefully the judges will start taking that into account.”
Double world champion Kari Traa of Norway held on to defeat top qualifier and hometown hero Aiko Uemura by a score of 25.02 to 24.88 for first in the women’s division. Bahrke maneuvered her way on the podium with a score of 24.12.
Bahrke has established herself as a major threat each time World Cup swings through Japan. She has five career top-10 World Cup finishes in the country. Her third-place finish Saturday was Bahrke’s best result of the season, topping her fourth-place performance at the Deer Valley, Utah World Cup in early January. Both of Bahrke’s runner-up World Cup performances have come at Madarao, Japan (2000 moguls, 1999 duals).
Two other American women made the finals field, with reigning World Cup champion Ann Battelle of Steamboat Springs, Colo., finishing ninth (22.58) and Donna Weinbrecht of Killington, Vt., taking 11th (22.03).
Lahtela and Traa lead the World Cup moguls standings.
The FIS Freestyle World Cup resumes Saturday in Lizuna Kogen, Japan, for moguls and concludes its visit to Japan with dual moguls on Sunday.
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