Cabral starts season on podium |

Cabral starts season on podium

The Associated Press Travis Cabral of South Lake Tahoe performs during the World Cup men's freestyle skiing moguls final Thursday in Tignes, French Alps. Cabral finished third.

USSA and Tribune reports

TIGNES, France — Travis Cabral wasn’t worried about his limited amount of snow training before the World Cup freestyle season – and for good reason.

The 21-year-old from South Lake Tahoe finished third overall and second among American bump skiers in Thursday’s season opener.

Cabral put his skis in storage last spring and didn’t bring them out until last month. The break from skiing allowed Cabral to rest a pair of knees that were aching from the pounding they took during a busy season a year ago.

Janne Lahtela of Finland kept the Americans from the podium’s top step, scoring 26.45 points. Travis Mayer, the silver medalist at Salt Lake City in 2002, took second with 25.91 points, followed by Cabral completing the poidum with 25.41.

“We’re starting where we were with the men – 2-3-4 but Janne’s still the thorn in our side,” said U.S. head coach Jeff Wintersteen. “Conditions were marginal today, but the team skied well. We’re pleased.”

Lake Tahoe also was well-represented in the women’s competition.

Olympic Valley’s Laurel Shanley produced the top American women’s result with her fourth-place finish. Shannon Bahrke of Tahoe City was ninth.

“The women skied well, too. Laurel stepped right up, moving up from 11th in semis, so we’ve got the momentum going there, too,” Wintersteen said.

Mayer, who skipped most of last season to focus on his college education, returned to World Cup moguls full-time and flourished right off the bat.

“I came back pretty quick,” Mayer said. “Considering the hard conditions and everything, I’m very happy.

“It was tough to get in and out of the bottom air, but it went well.” Mayer’s two jumps were a 720 D-spin off the top air and 360 iron cross spread at the bottom of the 240-meter run.

Mayer said skipping last season to complete more studies at Cornell University worked out well. The Ivy Leaguer competed in both World Cups in the United States, finishing fourth in Lake Placid, N.Y., and 36th at Utah’s Deer Valley.

“I didn’t do a ton (of training), but I was able to stay in contact and keep my skills up,” Mayer said. “Now, my body’s fresh and I’ve still got confidence in my skills.”

Mayer spent the summer training in water to get ready for his return to the circuit.

“I spent a lot of time on the water ramps during the summer and I’m confident in the higher (degree of difficulty) with my tricks,” Mayer said.

Mayer’s result didn’t surprised the U.S.’s head man.

“You could see in Wolf Creek (Colo.,) that T-Mayer was skiing so well and he showed it again today. Not that if he hadn’t stepped up, Cabral or Luke wouldn’t have filled the podium,” Wintersteen said.

The event was held in the village instead of up on the Grand Mott Glacier, which had been a backup site for years. Wintersteen said Tignes organizers decided if they couldn’t stage the World Cup in the village where it could be seen, they wouldn’t hold it.

Tignes will be the only competition for the moguls team on this trip, the coach said. Lack of snow in La Plagne forced organizers to cancel a dual moguls contest next week and Tignes officials were unable to set up a duals course in time, so the Americans have just the lone competition.

‘It’s an expensive trip,” Wintersteen said, “but two podiums soften the pain a bit.”

The team will break for the holidays and then regroup with the traditional North American World Cups in January, starting the eighth and ninth at Mont Tremblant, Que., followed by the Nature Valley Freestyle Cup at Lake Placid, N.Y., Jan. 14-16.

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