Rare air for Hernandez
Heavenly Ski Foundation alumnus Chris Hernandez made the most of some rare air time, winning the first and final Far West aerials competition Friday.
Weather had forced the postponement of all the year’s Far West aerials events through Friday, and Hernandez hadn’t competed in the discipline for two years. That didn’t ground the 21-year-old 1996 upright moguls champ, though, as he took first overall on Friday with a score of 130.36.
“I was just going to train moguls that day, and they were doing aerials, so I just grabbed my helmet and did it,” said Hernandez, who recently wrapped his season competing on the Nor Am circuit.
Heavenly Teammates Tyler Bradford and Sho Kashima were third and fourth overall in aerials, and Thomas Schwindeman was sixth. Jerel Dutton was 15th, and Jason Strull 25th. Heavenly’s Ryan Hickey was 31st, and Derek Dimitri 32nd.
The weekend, originally scheduled to take place at Squaw Valley USA before weather moved it to Heavenly Ski Resort, started with aerials Friday, continued with single moguls and another aerials event Saturday, and wrapped on Sunday with single and dual moguls. Sierra’s Jason Scott was second overall, first in the JII age division.
On the second day of aerials, Scott finished first overall, ahead of top-10 finishers Kashima (fifth), Bradford (sixth) and Schwindeman (seventh). Hickey was 20th, and Strull 32nd overall. Scott’s performance lifted him into 28th nationally in the junior division and qualified him for this week’s Junior Nationals at The Big Mountain, Mont.
“Jason’s been around,” said Sierra freestyle coach Jeff Stowell.
“It’s not bad for a first-year team,” he said. “We’re moving up. The important thing is the kids’ scores are coming up.”
In Saturday’s single moguls championship, Sierra’s Travis Cabral, a member of the U.S. Freestyle Team, was first overall with a 27. 28 score in the men’s event, and Sierra’s Amber Ramos first among the J3 age group and fourth overall in the women’s event. Heavenly’s Courtney Royce was seventh overall and second among the J4 (age 11-12) girls. Hernandez was fifth in the men’s event, and Hickey 11th (third in J2), just ahead of Derek Dmitri (17th overall, fourth among J2s). Heavenly’s Jerel Dutton was 19th, first among J4s, Kashima 21st overall, first among J3s, Schwindeman 28th overall, and Bradford 43rd overall. Strull was 48th overall on Saturday, and Heavenly’s Scott Lusby 55th. Sierra’s Luke Palmieri was fourth among the J4 boys, and teammate Chris Stamey seventh among J1s, just ahead of another Sierra skier, Deven Williams, who was eighth among J1s.
Sunday’s single moguls finale and dual moguls event wrapped the weekend. U.S. Ski Team member and Sierra skier Travis Ramos took the Far West duals championship, with Heavenly’s Dutton and Schwindeman rounding out the podium. Amber Ramos qualified first in duals, and eliminated the field to win the event.
“They were skiing really well,” said Heavenly Ski Foundation freestyle coach Jere Crawford. “The course was really hard but they skied really well.”
In the single moguls event, Royce was third overall and second among the J4s, and Travis Ramos added his second championship of the weekend, edging Hernandez 25.16-24.98. Hickey was seventh overall and tops among the J2s, while Dutton was 11th overall and first among the J4s. Schwindeman was 13th – third among J3s – Kashima 16th, Strull 17th, Heavenly’s Derek Clemenson 28th and Lusby 37th. Sierra’s Stamey was fourth in the J1 division, and Luke Palmieri sixth among the J4s.
Hickey qualified for the Junior National moguls at Big Mountain, as did Amber Ramos, and Dutton qualified in aerials. From March 13-20, Hickey will be on the road again, to Bogus Basin, Idaho, and the U.S. Championships Qualifier. With a good performance there, Hickey could earn a slot in the March 24-26 Chevy Trucks U.S. Championships at Sunday River, Maine.
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