Johnson has time on his side at Rolex J3 Nationals |

Johnson has time on his side at Rolex J3 Nationals

South Shore racer Ben Johnson plowed his way down the slopes at Bogus Basin Ski Resort Tuesday, capturing fourth place in the giant slalom at the Western J3 Olympics in Boise, Idaho.

Johnson, a mere freshman for Whittell High School, started with a 45.99 time on his first run and ended with a 47.38 for a 1:33.37 total finish. Evan Weiss, of Seattle, Wash., won the competition with a 1:30.08 mark.

It was a South Tahoe High logjam in the 15th through 35th spots, as Vikings Chris McKean (17th, 1:35.14), Cory Harris (20th, 1:35.60), Chris Little (31st, 1:37.71) and Danny Lear (1:37.76) populated the middle finishers.

Warrior Sean Weatherston was not able to finish his first run.

Tahoe City expert Julia Mancuso, who won several Tahoe Basin League events in the 1998-99 season, continued to overwhelm, cruising to the J3 title with a two-run time of 1:34.74. Her closest competitor was nearly two seconds behind. As the top-finishing American, the 15-year-old Mancuso will be named to the Rolex Junior Ski Team.

South Shore skier Diana Higman finished 17th Tuesday with a 54.55 time.

Woodcock misses nationals by 1 spot

Heavenly Ski Foundation’s Travis Woodcock and Ryan Hickey stood tall in a 90-person field replete with Olympians, U.S. team members and some of the country’s best young freestylers at the men’s moguls competition during Tuesday’s U.S. Championship qualifiers in Snowbird, Utah.

Woodcock finished 16th, narrowly missing the weekend trip to Deer Valley by just one spot. Woodcock ranked 12th after his first run, receiving 23.84 points from the event’s judges. The winning score was a 26.05.

“He skied really well but made a couple little mistakes that hurt him at the end there,” said Heavenly Ski Foundation coach Jere Crawford, who set up the moguls course for the World Cup event at Heavenly in late January. “They’re not trying to be close, they are trying to be at the top of the event.”

Ryan Hickey finished 33rd overall with a 22.71 score, gaining some valuable experience against some of the country’s best freestyle skiers.

“He was really one of the younger guys at the competition,” Crawford said. “It was his first big national-caliber event and I thought he had a really good showing.”

North Shore freestyler Tony Basile won the men’s competition, followed by Winter Park, Colo., native Brady Johnson in second.

“They get to ski with the best in the country and see how they measure up and where they need to improve,” Crawford added.

Though the 1998-99 freestyle season may have ended for Woodcock and Hickey, both qualified for the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team selection events in December. Only the top 35 from this week’s freestyle qualifiers are eligible for that event.

If the two South Shore up-and-comers can do well in December, they will be able to spend some time on the Nor-Am circuit. And if they do really well, time with the U.S. team and subsequent World Cup events might beckon.

Ramos flies, Cabral rests:

Twelve-year-old prodigy Amber Ramos wrapped up a busy freestyle season Tuesday, finishing 18th in the finals of the upright aerials national championships in Park City, Utah.

Ramos, who skis for the Sierra-at-Tahoe team, was one of just two women to perform a quadruple maneuver during Tuesday’s finals. On Monday, Ramos finished 20th in the women’s moguls competition at the U.S. Freestyle National championships in Snowbird, Utah.

Travis Cabral, a well-seasoned moguls specialist, had planned on skiing this week in preparation for the U.S. Freestyle National Saturday in Deer Valley, Utah. Upon his arrival at Snowbird, Cabral and his coaches learned that the Sierra skier had, in fact, already earned a bye to nationals and did not have to compete in Snowbird.

“It ended up being better for me not to have too much stress coming into this competition. It’s given me more time to relax and get ready to go at nationals,” Cabral said.

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