Travers whistles down

Cayman skier Dean Travers posted two top-ten finishes at the annual Whistler Cup international ski race at Whistler/Blackcomb, British Columbia, Canada recently.

The Whistler Cup is the top North American competition for skiers aged 11-14 boasting a field of 390 athletes from 17 different countries all competing in Slalom, Giant Slalom and Kombi (a combined slalom and giant slalom course for the younger racers).

Aspen Valley Alpine coach Pat Rohan Verplank coached Travers, 12, at the event.

While Travers had qualified for Whistler as a part of the US team by virtue of his gold medal in the GS at the Junior Olympics the US ski team decided not to send any 11-12 year old J4s to compete at Whistler Cup this year.

However, Travers made the field for the Cayman Islands team.

‘Dean was quite a sensation being from the Cayman Islands and was one of the most popular racers there,’ said Verplank.

‘At first people heard the Caymans and did a double take and then his presence soon took on a Jamaican bobsled team cachet, except for one fact: Dean can really race by anyone’s standard.’

Travers tried to make the most of his opportunity. A hip check at the top in the slalom in the first run resulted in a 22nd position. But a stunning second run with his trademark relentless and fearless rhythm straight down the fall line left the crowd and the international field speechless as Dean held first place throughout the afternoon and was only pipped ultimately into second but hundredths of a second.

As a result overall he improved to a ninth place final finish in slalom.

Travers followed up with a better overall result in the Giant Slalom taking a strong bronze medal with a second and an eighth place finish in the two runs, beaten only by the two Japanese champions and, much to the astonishment of the announcer, took the Cayman Islands flag to the podium at the awards ceremony .

With nothing to lose in the Kombi, Dean’s blistering pace on the top section proved his undoing.

‘He was strong in the beginning but blew out on the fifth gate,’ said Verplank. ‘But everyone was very impressed with Dean’s skiing and it was a really productive competition. On his day in the GS he may be the fastest 12 year old in North America.’