|Posted by jibcrib on March 26, 2009 at 6:37 PM|
SQUAW VALLEY, CA (March 26) - As the 2009 Sprint U.S. Freestyle Championships commence Friday at Squaw Valley, there will be one face in the crowd who is recalling a time 10 years ago when, at U.S. championships, he made history at the age of 15. Tahoe native Travis Cabral (South Lake Tahoe, CA) was a surprise winner that year in Deer Valley, going on to become a World Cup champion a few years later.
As a teenager, Cabral thought competing at U.S. Championships would merely be an awesome chance to compete alongside his heroes.
"I went into the competition thinking 'this is going to be a great competition, I'm going to learn a lot, and I get to ski with Jonny Moseley who just won the gold medal,'" Cabral said.
Little did Cabral know that at the end of the day he would become the youngest athlete to ever win a U.S. freestyle title.
"All this stuff was going through my mind and lo and behold I win the competition," Cabral said. "Honestly I didn't know what to do. It's one of those things where it's a dream, but I didn't know dreams could come true like this. I'm 15 years old and going, 'Is this real?'"
What followed his incredible win was a whirlwind of an athletic career that included a Junior World Championship silver medal, a World Cup moguls title and a spot on the 2006 Olympic team.
Following his monumental success, Cabral decided that it was time for a change of pace in his life.
"It was just one of those easy transitions. I'm done with skiing, so what's the next best thing I can do to continue helping my community and giving back," Cabral said. "I've always been one to help out every way I can, to give back to not only my community but any community. It took me two years to make a decision on what I really wanted to do and it just hit me."
Cabral's choice - become an officer at the South Lake Tahoe Police Department.
"I have a lot of friends and family in the department and I've always been fascinated with that type of work," Cabral said. "I get to make money while I give back to people and help my community. It's the same as skiing, just a different profession."
With a few years on the squad under his officer's belt, Cabral says he's excited to have the freestyle world come to Squaw so he can catch up with old friends and reminisce on good times.
"It's going to be a lot of fun. Any competition we have at Tahoe is great. Now that I'm on the outside it's cool to see the friends and teammates in the community who are trying to accomplish the same goals," Cabral said. "Even though it's an individual sport, our team does a good job of working together for the same goal and I really miss that."
But, more than excitement, Cabral will remember 10 years ago being the teenager who stunned the freestyle world.
"It is home and I get to see a lot of people competing in the same event that got me to where I was," Cabral said. "It's such a cool thing to be able to still be in the sport in the sense that I can see all my friends. For me life went on, but it's also good to step back and think 'wow, we really did have a fun time. It's a good life and it's quite an experience to do what professional athletes get to do."
Cabral can still show a thing or two in the bumps. But what will most excite him this weekend at Squaw is watching the young club skiers battle the top guns like he did 10 years ago.