Locals turn Bumps & Jumps into South Shore bump-off
South Shore bump fans couldn’t have asked for anything more, save a healthy Travis Ramos, at the Papa John’s Bumps & Jumps on Saturday at Heavenly Ski Resort.
As it was, three area moguls skiers qualified for the semifinals, with Travis Cabral finishing second and Chris Hernandez taking third. But pulling a fast one on the competition was South Tahoe High senior Ryan Hickey, who advanced all the way to the semifinals before losing to eventual winner Stephan Rochon of Canada and to Hernandez for third place.
“That definitely was cool, three South Shore guys in the top four,” said Hickey, who made more money Saturday – $1,600 – than some of his high school friends make during their summer jobs. “I just wanted to qualify high and make $300 for 16th place.”
Hernandez and Cabral have become accustomed to such scenarios at nationals and World Cup events.
“That’s the way it’s gonna be in the future and in Salt Lake,” said Hernandez, looking ahead to next year’s Winter Olympics.
Hickey, who played wide receiver for STHS during the fall, qualified ninth and then opened the afternoon duals by shocking Squaw Valley’s Tony Basile.
“It’s definitely confidence building when you’re going against Tony, someone that great, and you just want to get to the bottom first and be a lot more powerful than he is,” Hickey said. “I kept advancing and disappointing people, you know. It was definitely a fun day and a confidence booster.”
His tight turns and speed down the mountain kept him rolling through to the semis, along with his calming prerace ritual at the start gate.
“It all started by being laid-back in the start, joking around and singing some songs. Everyone gets a kick out of it, but that’s my way handling things, and basically I’m not nervous skiing my runs,” Hickey said.
When asked about Hickey’s unexpected performance, Cabral and Hernandez sang out, “Oh, my god.”
“He’s out of line,” Cabral said. “I’ve never seen him ski this good – ever.”
“He’s gotta take that same exact skiing to Junior Worlds and he’ll be in Finland,” said Hernandez, indicating that Hickey is capable of winning Juniors Worlds and thereby qualifying for the World Cup Finals later in the week. “I’ve seen him ski good, but not five wins in a row. I don’t even do that.”
But Rochon was too fast and experienced for Hickey in the seminals.
“The semifinal took me out of my game plan a little bit. I came into the top jump a little faster than I wanted to,” said Hickey, who skidded out wide of his bump sequence before the second jump. “Stephan has quick feet and gets down the hill pretty quick.”
Hernandez, questionable for the competition because of nagging back injury, uncorked the second-best qualifying score and then dusted Ean Smith and David Babic on his way to the semifinals.
“My back was fine. I think I was just being a baby,” Hernandez said. “I sat on my couch all week and watched TV.”
But in the semifinals, Hernandez met Cabral, who was pummeling his foes with his higher lifts on the jumps and swiftness down Gunbarrel.
However, Hernandez and Cabral came across the finish side by side, putting the five judges on the spot. Cabral received the nod to the finals by a 3-2 vote.
“We had the same time, which is weird and has never happened before,” Hernandez said. “The only thing that sucks about going against each other is that one of us is gonna lose and then we’re out. Otherwise, it couldn’t be better when (Cabral) and I are trying to make it to the top spot.”
Hernandez bounced back to down Hickey for third place as again Hickey had trouble with his turns before the second jump. Third place was worth $2,700.
“This is the best bet you can make … way better than the casinos. Either you win a hundred bucks or a couple grand,” Hernandez said.
In the finals, Cabral, 17, pulled off a competition first – a quintuple twister – off the bottom jump, but Rochon’s speed carried him to a 3-2 victory.
“I decided for the finals that there was nothing to lose but a couple thousand so I went for the quint and tried to make history,” said Cabral, who earned $3,600 for second place as opposed to Rochon’s $6,500 first-place paycheck. “That’s the first time I’ve skied against him in duals. Next time I’m gonna throw a six instead of quint and maybe that will help me out.”
Despite his round-of-16 exit, Basile’s day became quite enriching. The Squaw Valley bumper, who won the series’ first stop in Steamboat, Colo., rebounded to win a $10,000 bump-off with Jeremy Bloom of Loveland, Colo.
Bloom, however, held on to win the overall grand prix title despite a round-of-eight exit against Rochon. Bloom, 18, won a Chevy Blazer ZR-2 and $2,500 as series champion.
Hernandez, who only had time for two stops in the three-event series, came in sixth overall, while Cabral was 11th and Hickey 13th. Basile was second in the final standings, only six points behind Bloom.
Ramos missed the event with a sore ankle, and remains questionable for this week’s World Cup Finals in Finland. But Ramos stayed close to the competition, serving as a guest analyst at the bottom of the course.
Canadian Jeff Bean prevented Belarus’ Dmitri Dashinski from sweeping all the titles up for grabs in Friday’s aerials.
In snowshowers, Dashinski captured the event and series championship. But the high-jumping Bean won a $10,000 jump-off afterward. The series’ top two competitors advanced to the jump-off.
CBS will broadcast the event March 25.
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