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Cabral makes Olympic team

Steve Yingling

Perspective.

That’s what South Lake Tahoe freestyle skier Travis Cabral had on Sunday as he clinched a spot in next month’s Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy.

In 2002, Cabral remembered how awful he felt about missing the Winter Games in Salt Lake City. So as he celebrated his first trip to the Winter Olympics on Sunday evening in Lake Placid. N.Y., his excitement was tempered with his teammates’ disappointments.

“In some ways I’m very happy for myself, and in other ways I’m sad,” Cabral said. “There are not many times where you’ll see people cry when they don’t make an Olympic team. We’re all the best in the world; it’s hard to pick four people.

“In 2002, I was one of the guys they held back and I didn’t perform to make the Olympic team, even though I knew I could go out there and win it,” Cabral said. “It was a very emotional time, and it takes a while to get back on your feet.”

Consequently, Cabral, 22, tried to comfort his closest pursuer for the fourth Olympic berth in men’s moguls skiing, Nate Roberts. Roberts, the 2005 world champion, didn’t make the team despite finishing seventh or better in five of the six World Cup events before the Olympics.

“I’ve known him forever and he’s such a great guy,” said Cabral, who gave Roberts $90 to go out to dinner on Sunday night. “In some ways it’s heartbreaking to know someone is going through what I went through in 2002.”

At the same time, Cabral fulfilled a goal he hatched as a youngster growing up on the South Shore.

“I watched the ’92 games, and told my dad (Dale) that I want to go to the Olympics and be an Olympic gold medalist, and now I have that chance,” Cabral said. “To accomplish it with everyone that is on our team, it’s just amazing,” Cabral said.

The United States Ski and Snowboard Association will officially announce Olympic freestyle and Alpine team members on Wednesday.

Cabral had to sweat out the final pre-Olympic World Cup on Sunday as unheralded Michael Morse of Duxbury, Mass., nearly pulled off a podium finish that would have vaulted him into the Games. Morse finished fourth with a score of 25.37, .05 behind third-place finisher Tapio Luusao of Finland. Cabral had issues with course lighting, struggling on the bottom of the hill to finish 16th.

Based on criteria established by the USSA, a Morse third-place finish would have topped Cabral’s three top-five performances.

“I’m sure it was close. That’s just how it works out,” said Cabral, who didn’t know that only a separation .05 of a point kept him on the Olympic team.

Cabral nearly improved his Olympic chances on Friday when he placed fourth, .08 behind third-place finisher Toby Dawson. Such a scenario would have forced his U.S. teammates to get a first or second on Sunday.

The emotional and hectic weekend of competition wasn’t lost on U.S. moguls head coach Jeff Wintersteen.

“This is a tough week, for the athletes and for the coaches,” Wintersteen said. “These athletes are putting their heart into everything and I’m especially proud of the skiers ‘on the bubble’ because no one’s backing down.”

Truckee’s Shannon Bahrke scored her third top-five finish on Friday and held onto the fourth spot despite a third-place finish by Jillian Vogtli on Sunday. Bahrke won a silver medal at the 2002 Games.

Dawson, Jeremy Bloom and Travis Mayer also qualfied for Olympics on the men’s side, while Vogtli, Hannah Kearney and Michaelle Roark clinched women’s Olympic berths.

Reno’s Shelly Robertson made a late bid to make the Olympics, finishing fourth, .70 behind Vogtli on Sunday.

Cabral said he spent most of the day on the phone, receiving congratulations from friends and family from back home. That respect from his home town, Cabral said, means the world to him.

“It’s been amazing to see our community come together to support someone’s dreams and goals,” he said. “I feel I have a lot of support and it shows with the community involvement, love and passion for what I do.”


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