Travers storms little Olympics

Skiing protégé Dean Travers came away from the Junior Olympics with a clutch of medals.

At the J4 Rocky Mountain Junior Olympics held at Winter Park, Colorado for 11-12 year-olds, Caymanian Travers skiing in Cayman Ski Team Colours astonished the fastest racers from 18 Rocky Mountain and Central States .

Tension was high in his preferred speed event, the Super Giant Slalom, after Travers had recorded amongst the fastest of the times of the 120 racers in practice.

On a cold, crisp morning the tight race course set did not favour the faster skiers and indeed after a perfect start recording the highest speed of 49mph at the gate 5 split speed nearly proved to be his undoing.

Taking the blind left hander after the steep too straight he hip checked and was thrown back up on to one ski. Effecting a remarkable recovery he nevertheless lost well over a second which, given the quality of the competition, should have dashed his medal chances.

Undeterred and with nothing now to lose, Travers straightened his line down the Norwegian face and made up significant time on every other racer bar one, skied to a silver medal. He was behind the excellent Zak Kjos who skied a near perfect course and was good enough to take the gold by two tenths of a second in a thrilling result.

The first of the two Giant slalom races the following day brought heartache to all the top seeds starting in the top 15. Most failed to gauge a tight delay gate on the steep Norwegian face and all of whom, including Travers, crashed out leaving the medals to the lower seeds.

The second Giant Slalom that afternoon was set straighter and offered all the invitation Dean needed.

Undeterred and swooping down the course with near perfect trademark angles carving on both edges, he skied a flawless course and overtook the heavily favoured Kjos by less than fifteen hundredths to take the gold medal.

The final day saw a difficult course set for the two slalom races, both of which favoured the highly technical skiers from the Mid West.

Travers, believing he had no claim to slalom fame, applied too direct a line on a technical course and failed at the tight flush which again claimed all the top seeds.

This left only the second slalom race that afternoon on a rapidly deteriorating piste. The reverse draw gave him the start position but now skiing an aggressive line that wholly belied his lack of slalom success and maintaining his rhythm in wet snow he brought a roar from the crowd as he negotiated the flush (that was again to claim all the top seeds including Kjos) on one ski.

Recovering on the outside edge solely by leg strength Travers confounded the crowd and his coaches by skiing into what was to be the silver medal position, beaten for the gold by less than two tenths by the Mid West Champion.

With a gold and two silver medals Travers was awarded second overall place in the Junior Olympics with Kjos taking the overall first place. Dean will now compete for Cayman against the best international J4 skiers at the Whistler Cup next week.

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