September 19, 2020

Aspenite racing for Cayman Islands in World Championships

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Dean TraversBy Madeleine Osberger, Special to the Aspen Daily News

BEAVER CREEK — Dean Travers could be attending Harvard University right now but instead, he’s pursuing another dream, competing in his first FIS Alpine World Ski Championships.

Travers, 18, will ski under the Cayman Islands flag, just like his older brother Dow did in the last two Winter Olympics and the 2011 World Championships. His family lives in the Cayman Islands, but they are part-time Aspen residents, and Travers graduated from Aspen High School in 2014.

“We can’t train in the Cayman Islands so we had to find a winter training base. We decided Aspen was a great place to be. The training is perfect, world class,” he said.

Travers, who will ski in today’s men’s super G, is coached by former Olympian and longtime national team member Jake Zamansky, as well as Thomas Vonn. He is also an Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club member.

“Dean has been a part of AVSC for the last six years,” said head alpine coach Johno McBride. “In this time, he has been operating on an independent program, but there is no doubt that the ski club has benefited from his pace and he has benefited from the training environment we have created.”

On Tuesday, Travers sampled the Birds of Prey course, which drops 2,470 vertical feet, and features a 45 percent gradient in sections, during a downhill training run.

“It’s a fantastic experience for me to learn from and in a couple of years, maybe I’ll be winning an event,” Travers said.

He can also learn course nuances from Zamansky, who raced giant slalom on the lower section of Birds of Prey as recently as 2009, and from Thomas Vonn, whose ex-wife Lindsey Vonn was third Tuesday in the women’s world championships super G. (The women race on the Raptor course while the men ski on Birds of Prey.)

“Between myself and Thomas Vonn, we both have a lot of experience here,” Zamansky said.

While the coach said he’s uncertain whether Travers will ski this weekend in the men’s downhill, he’s on for at least two events, super G and giant slalom. (Travers will have to ski in a qualification event before he can race in the Feb. 13 giant slalom finals.)

He’s already won FIS races in both disciplines this season at Copper Mountain, albeit at a lower competition level, and aside from recent illness, Travers said he’s ready to take on the world.

“I am feeling ready for this race, “ he said. “I’m glad to be back [health-wise] at 100 percent.”

Zamansky is advising his athlete to approach the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships like any other competition.

“It is just another race, ” Zamansky said, explaining that even though it’s the big show, “you’re still out there trying to do the same thing and ski the same way.”

That may be more easily said than done because while Travers has won FIS-level events, he’s never skied in a World Cup race.

Lending extra support is sibling Dow, who flew in to help his younger brother, Travers said.

“It’s great having him on the sidelines. I hope I can make everyone back home proud. Skiing is a different sport than they are used to.”

The athlete will need all the support he can get in a super G field that’s deep with talent. The U.S. alone will send five speed skiers to the race: Travis Ganong, Ted Ligety, Bode Miller, Steve Nyman and Andrew Weibrecht.

World Cup leader Kjetil Jansrud will try to become just the second man to win the world championships super G while still the reigning Olympic champion. Jansrud and his Norwegian teammate, Aksel Lund Svindal, were fixtures last week at Travers’ home base, the Stapleton Alpine Training Center at Aspen Highlands.

While Travers’ long-term goals are competing full-time on the World Cup circuit, next fall he’ll swap skiing for studying, as he can only defer admission to Harvard for one year.

For now, however, his main course of study involves snow-covered racecourses.
For more on this story go to: http://www.aspendailynews.com/section/home/165550
IMAGE: http://instagram.com/dean_travers/

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