Former Tahoe Olympian swaps skis for badge |

Former Tahoe Olympian swaps skis for badge

Jim Grant/Tahoe Daily TribuneTravis Cabral trains at Sierra-at-Tahoe on Friday before heading to the winter Olympics in Italy.

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE ” Travis Cabral served the South Shore community as a world-class skier for more than a decade, competing in the Winter Olympics and winning a World Cup championship.

Even through Cabral no longer is a competitive moguls skier, he hasn’t stopped serving the community where he grew up. The 24-year-old Cabral has joined the South Lake Tahoe Police Department and is working as a patrol officer.

“What better way to give back to the community than to protect and serve the people who have helped me for so long?” Cabral said.

The police department is pleased that Cabral stuck to his roots when deciding where to practice law enforcement.

“We have gained a great asset to the department, as well as the community,” said South Lake Tahoe police Lt. Marty Hale. “He’s a bright, talented individual, not to mention his background as an Olympic skier. We feel very fortunate to have him here; he tested very well.”

Hale said Cabral isn’t the only current officer serving his hometown. “There are a few of those guys here. They are some of the guys that we are attracting that are very good employees,” he said.

Cabral retired from the U.S. Ski Team after competing in the 2006 Winter Games in Sauze d’Oulx, Italy.

The 24-year-old dabbled in the film industry before the Olympics, producing “Shadows in the Trees” with friend Chris Smith. But Cabral said filmmaking was only a temporary endeavor that he did to raise money for the community. Cabral said he developed an interest in law enforcement as a child, and his successful skiing career never altered that direction.

To become an officer, Cabral completed one year of training, including five months at a police academy in Santa Rosa. Like he did on the mountain, Cabral stood out in his class, setting some of the top marks in sharpshooting.

When it came time to choose an area to serve, Cabral knew it would be close to home. He deliberated between the South Lake Tahoe and El Dorado County departments.

“The more time I spent with the guys in South Lake Tahoe … a lot of them are sergeants that I went to school with. Their influence and their willingness to have me in the department helped me make the decision that this is where I wanted to be,” Cabral said.

Cabral’s progression as a bump skier was faster than any U.S. athlete before him. In 1999, he became the youngest U.S. moguls champion in team history as a 15-year-old. A year later, he competed in his first World Cup event, and before long he was hoisting the World Cup Grand Prix championship globe over his head. Then 19, Cabral was the youngest to win the World Cup moguls title.

In 2004 at Heavenly Mountain Resort, Cabral accomplished another first, becoming the only male athlete to sweep the U.S. National Championship singles and dual moguls titles.

After narrowly missing the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City – he served as a forerunner – Cabral reached his goal of qualifying for the Olympics in 2006. Cabral put himself in position for a medal, placing second in qualifying, but his final run dropped him to ninth place.

He retired two years ago with four World Cup victories.

Police Sgt. Cam Carmichael, who has assisted with Cabral’s training, is proud that Cabral stayed home – and not just because the department’s skiing team now appears unbeatable.

“He’s a public figure in this community, and it’s nice that such a known person in this town is in (our department),” Carmichael said. “He’s an absolutely great kid all the way around.”

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