Forerunning gives young bumpers moment to shine |

Forerunning gives young bumpers moment to shine

With all the money riding on the Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Bumps & Jumps finals Saturday at Heavenly, one of the toughest tasks fell to the youngest skiers.

Before Janne Lahtela led the flying Finns to another fantastic finish, and before South Shore contenders Chris Hernandez, Travis Cabral and Travis Ramos stood in the gates, another group of Tahoe skiers hit the Gunbarrel bumps course at Heavenly Ski Resort. The forerunners carried down the mountain the important task of pumping up the crowd – and keeping the big-money event fun.

“We just look at each other and laugh – ‘Let’s just do it old-school style,” said Heavenly Ski Foundation bumper Ryan Hickey, 17, who preran the Bumps & Jumps course after taking 22nd in the morning elimination round.

Hickey joined fellow Heavenly bumpers Derek Dimitri, Courtney Royce, Jerel Dutton, Sho Kashima and Jason Strull, and Sierra-at-Tahoe’s Amber Ramos in forerunning Saturday’s bumps finals. Freestyle compounds the forerunner’s normal task of making a final test run down the course because forerunners – like the competitors – have to go big off the two kickers. Thus, the forerunners treated spectators not only to old-school tricks like twisters and spreadsters, but mulekicks and mute 360 grabs on their runs. Hickey had even more aggressive new-school plans.

“I’m thinking next run – if we have one more run – doing a 360 Japan air,” he said.

The crowd met that experimental attitude with loud approval. Neither Dimitri nor Hickey seemed intimidated.

“It’s fun to work the crowds and stuff like that,” said Dimitri, who also competed in the morning’s elimination rounds. “They really pump you up.”

The South Shore’s freestyle skiers continue their own bumps competition in two weeks with a moguls competition at Alpine Meadows.

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