Mogul skiers pushing to accompany Mendes to Olympics |

Mogul skiers pushing to accompany Mendes to Olympics

Column by Steve Yingling

Only a month ago, it looked as if Jonna Mendes was destined to become the sole representative from the South Shore to qualify for the Winter Olympics.

Well, as we all know, a lot can happen in sports in a month or two. Just look at the Baltimore Ravens. They went from a football team that couldn’t score a touchdown in October and November to Super Bowl champions in January.

The 2002 Winter Games are exactly a year away and it’s looking more and more like Mendes won’t be the South Shore’s only representative like she was in Nagano, Japan, in 1998.

Bump skiers Travis Ramos, Travis Cabral and Chris Hernandez aren’t counting on any last-second appointments to the Olympic team. They’re making their dreams happen a year in advance.

Ramos started the “Tahoe posse’s” late-season Olympic push by winning his first World Cup event Jan. 28 in Sunday River, Maine. Cabral and Hernandez also got the flames burning Saturday in Japan with World Cup bests of third and ninth, respectively.

Meanwhile, Ramos continued to perform like a gold-medal contender at the same race, finishing fourth. Despite being extended a disgraceful number of World Cup starts – only three – Ramos has stepped up to finish no worse than ninth.

“That was unbelievable to have four guys from the Far West in the top 10. The Far West could almost send its own country to the Olympics and do well,” said Heavenly bumps coach Jere Crawford, who coached Hernandez regularly before he joined the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team. “Those guys are all young and they are coming into their prime. They are only going to get better, and (Jonny) Moseley is getting back into his prime.”

Crawford’s homer statement may not be far off the mark. If the U.S. had to select its four Olympic men’s mogul skiers today, three of them probably would be from the Lake Tahoe area: Ramos, Cabral and defending gold medalist Moseley. Evan Dybvig, who has two runner-up finishes this season, would likely get the fourth spot.

“If they keep skiing like this, they can’t help putting those guys in there. If they don’t, there’s something seriously wrong with the system,” said Sierra freestyle coach Jeff Stowell, who used to spend his winters on the pro bump circuit.

In Crawford’s opinion, Moseley and Ramos would definitely be going to the Olympics if they were held today.

“And they way I’ve seen Cabral skiing, I’d pick him, too. I’d pick Chris, too, but I’m biased,” Crawford said. “It’s going to be tough for the coaches to pick because there’s so much depth on the U.S. team right now.”

Of course, there are three World Cup races remaining this season, nationals in the spring and a few crucial events next season before coaches determine who will represent the old red, white and blue.

Dale Cabral, who has guided his son, Travis, to this exciting stage in his skiing career, says the Far West Division is on the verge of even bigger things in the future.

“I went to a Far West event for the first time in some time and saw a whole slew of young males 6 to 12 perform and I was blown away. Probably 18 of those kids are skiing better than Travis and Travis ever skied at that age,” Dale Cabral said.

Now, it looks as if the main obstacle for fans of the South Shore’s Olympic hopefuls is trying to raise enough cash to buy Olympic tickets from those savvy online-ticket-shopping scalpers.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.