Deer Valley, UT (Jan. 29) USST - Tahoe teen Travis Cabral (South Lake Tahoe, CA) led the qualifying round of men's moguls Wednesday as all four U.S. men and three U.S. women moved through to finals on the opening day of the 2003 FIS Freestyle World Championships at sunny Deer Valley Resort.
Moguls finals will be held Friday with NBC broadcasting two hours of Worlds coverage each day on the weekend, at 3 p.m. EST Saturday and 1 p.m. EST Sunday. The running order in finals is in reverse order from the 16 who qualify; the qualifying score is not brought forward.
"You don't remember who won the semis, so it's a new day Friday," said moguls Head Coach Don St. Pierre, who pleased not only to have seven skiers into finals but to have within striking distance of the medals stand.
"This was one of the toughest courses of the year because of the length, and the moguls are really abrupt," said Cabral, who was - at 15 - the youngest moguls champion in U.S. history when he won the title at the 1999 Chevy Truck championships, also at Deer Valley. "The airs (mid-run jumps) are really tough to get off - you have to really be on 'em."
CABRAL: "I HAD THE RUN I WANTED"
Cabral, 19, who has won two World Cup contests this season (the opener at Tignes, France, and Jan. 18 at Whiteface Mountain outside Lake Placid, NY, during the Sprint U.S. Freestyle Grand National World Cup.)
"I'm coming into this event just wanting to ski well. These are the first World champs for me and I wanted to lay down a couple of good runs, and one of 'em's over, so it was a good day. I definitely had the run I wanted."
Cabral received 26.77 points for his run with Finn Mikko Ronkainen second at 26.17. Olympic medalist Travis Mayer (Steamboat Springs, CO) and Toby Dawson (Vail, CO) each had 26.09 points, but Mayer was awarded third place on a tiebreaker formula. Defending World Cup champion Jeremy Bloom (Loveland, CO) was seventh as 16 skiers in the field of 38 moved to finals.
In the women's contest, Olympic and reigning World Cup and world champion Kari Traa of Norway led with 25.15 points. Michelle Roark (Denver) was second with 25.01 while World Cup leader Shannon Bahrke (Tahoe City, UT) qualified sixth and Emiko Torito (Englewood, CO) was seventh.
Roark, who is coming back from three years of surgeries and problems with her right knee after injuring it at Deer Valley in 2000, said, "I don't know if it's an advantage or disadvantage - I hadn't skied all week because my (right) knee got so swollen from a bone bruise I got in Lake Placid. So, I took off the whole week so I'd be able to compete ... I had no top to bottom (Tuesday) but I went top to bottom today. I'm very proud of myself for that - it was a long run and it required a lot of focus..."
ST. PIERRE SAYS THE GAME'S ONLY HALF OVER
"It's very satisfying, having seven skiers in finals, but this is still only the fourth inning," said St. Pierre. "We've still got one day to go, and Friday will be a big one."
Head Coach Jeff Wintersteen said he wasn't concerned about changes in the Champion course from the Olympics last February. Organizers have moved the top jump closer to the top of the course, dropped the second "air" closer to the bottom, meaning there's a lot of skiing terrain in the midsection of the run.
"I think it's good. It's challenging - you have to ski it. It's a skier's course, which we haven't had for a long time. ...It's nice you see a mogul-skiing course. It was such a breath of fresh air 'T-Mayer' rip that middle section because that's what moguls skiing is about...
"I think the discussions about the changes in the course are probably talked and written about more by the media than by the coaches and athletes. That's the course and you to ski it. It's not that big a deal."
Finals on Friday should be a wide-open event, St. Pierre concluded. "As Jeff mentioned, we're going to be seeing some different air packagees. I don't anticipate our crew will be doing any of those off-axis. ...We'll definitely see some multiple position helicopters and see fewer double-twister spreads...
"We've seen a host of different people on the podium this season. A betting man would be struggling to pick a winner."
Aerials qualifiers for World Championships, which are a joint production between Deer Valley and the U.S. Ski Team, are scheduled Thursday on Deer Valley's White Owl run. General admission (except for bleacher seating) is free for the qualifiers and tickets for the moguls finals Friday plus dual moguls Saturday and aerials finals Saturday night are available through SmithTix (1.800.888.TIXX) or Deer Valley Signature stores in Park City.
2003 FIS FREESTYLE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS RESULTS
Deer Valley, UT - Jan. 29
Moguls Qualifying (16 make finals)
1. Travis Cabral, South Lake Tahoe, CA, 26.77 points
2. Mikko Ronkainen, Finland, 26.17
3. Travis Mayer, Steamboat Springs, CO, 26.09 (ahead on tiebreaker)
4. Toby Dawson, Vail, CO, 26.09
5. Janne Lahtela, Finland, 26.06
6. Stephane Rochon, Canada, 24.76
7. Jeremy Bloom, Loveland, CO, 24.42
8. Adrian Costa, Australia, 214.34
9. Christoph Stark, Germany, 24.30
10. Laurent Niol, France, 23.91
11. Michael Robertson, Australia, 23.86
13. Vladimir Tiumentsev, Russia, 23.81
14. Yugo Tsukita, Japan, 23.51
15. Guilbaut Colas, France, 23.43
16. Lauri Lassila, Finland, 23.33
1. Kari Traa, Norway, 25.15
2. Michelle Roark, Denver, 25.01
3. Stephanie St. Pierre, Canada, 24.94
4. Aiko Uemura, Japan, 24.35
5. Ingrid Berntsen, Norway, 24.31
6. Shannon Bahrke, Tahoe City, CA, 24.08
7. Emiko Torito, Englewood, CO, 23.36
8. Elisa Kurylowicz, Canada, 23.12
9. Daria Serova, Russia, 22.92
10. Tae Satoya, Japan, 22.91
11. Nikola Sudova, Czech Republic, 22.86
12. Tami Bradley, Canada, 22.54
13. Miyuki Hatanaka, Japan, 22.48
14. Sandra Laoura, France, 22.23
15. Kristi Richards, Canada, 22.01
16. Jane Sexton, Australia, 21.69
27. Laurel Shanley, Squaw Valley, CA, 18.62