Ramos first American to win World Cup moguls event this season
Travis Ramos of South Lake Tahoe became the first American to win a World Cup freestyle moguls event this season by topping the podium Sunday in Sunday River, Maine.
Ramos, dropped from the U.S. Team before the season opened, nailed his 180 spread and 360 helicopter, mute grab jumps to edge teammate Jonny Moseley of Squaw Valley, 27.34 and 26.76, for first place.
“I wasn’t expecting anything like this today,” said Ramos, who turns 22 on Feb. 22. “I knew if I stuck my run I would have a shot at the podium, but I didn’t think it would be here on top.”
There was enormous pressure on both Ramos and Moseley to perform well Sunday in what would have been their final World Cup races of the season if things had gone bad.
“For Jonny and I, who have been competing together since we were little, this is important for the both of us. I wouldn’t want to share this with too many people out there, except for my other Tahoe buddies,” Ramos said. “Jonny hung on to second, which is very admirable and very important to him. If he didn’t make finals or didn’t do well, he wouldn’t have had a shot for the Olympics next year.”
After being trimmed from the U.S. roster for missing summer camps, Ramos needed to make the most of each 2000-2001 competition in order to position himself for the Winters Games next year.
He was second overall in the weeklong U.S. Selection Event in December in Deer Valley, Utah, giving him two World Cup starts in the states. In his only other World Cup appearance, Ramos was ninth in Deer Valley earlier this month. Yet, the team decided against giving him additional World Cup starts.
But those differences were forgotten as the team swept Ramos off his feet and carried him to the podium on Sunday.
“They carried me to the podium while I was on the phone with my dad (Reve),” Ramos said. “It was a good moment.”
For winning his first World Cup, Ramos was told by coaches afterward that he’ll compete in the next two World Cups in Japan and the final one in Finland. The other perk kicks in today on the long flight to Japan.
“The head coach upgraded my ticket to first class,” Ramos said.
Ramos and Moseley qualified for finals third and 12th, respectively. After Ramos edged ahead of Moseley, he had to restlessly watch the top two qualifiers – teammate Evan Dybvig and Finland’s Janne Lahtela – come down the mountain. But the circuit’s big guns didn’t respond as Dybvig came in 11th and Lahtela 12th.
“There were some tense moments waiting for Evan and Janna to come down because they both are very capable of winning performances,” Ramos said.
Before Sunday, Ramos’ best World Cup finish was third in a duals race in Chatel, France, in 1998.
“That was a wonderful thing for me at the time, but being that it’s a singles moguls competition in the Olympics, it’s a little more special being on the podium for singles (today),” Ramos said.
For Moseley, his performance Sunday was proof he’s still one of the world’s best, even after three years away from World Cup competition.
“I feel like I am still in position to come back and try to spice things up and have the opportunity to win the Olympics. I knew the road was going to be hard and I got lucky today,” Moseley said. “You get lucky to qualify 12th and then get a second … it’s good for me and I’m pretty happy with it. My skills are coming around.”
South Lake Tahoe’s Chris Hernandez, making his first World Cup start of the season, was 23rd in qualifying with a scored run of 24.31.
Shannon Bahrke of Tahoe City was seventh (25.11) in the women’s competition, which was won by Kari Traa of Norway (26.54).
But the day belonged to Ramos and the Super Bowl winner.
“There are 50 guys really stoked in Tampa and one guy had his Super Bowl today. I’m just as happy as those guys,” Ramos said.
– the U.S. Ski Team Web site contributed to this story.
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