As Travis Ganong tore through two fresh feet of light powder Thursday before launching off a rise and out of sight on Squaw Valleys KT-22, the rooster tail from his fat powder skis made him appear almost like a mirage.Ganong left the following day for Austria and the Federation of International Skiing (FIS) World Juniors Alpine Skiing Championships, but his heart is securely anchored on KT and his home mountain of Squaw Valley.Thursday marked a true powder day, making for a sweet send-off for Ganong.You just do four laps on middle knuckle and call it good, the 18-year-old said after tearing over the fingers and virtually eating all of the powder below them.While freeskiing may be where Ganong has the most fun, and ultimately where his career is headed, Alpine skiing has his undivided attention for the time being.Were very excited about Travis, said Walt Evans, competition director for the United States Ski Association (USSA) and team leader for the Junior Worlds.After some impressive results on the North American circuit, including an overall first-place finish at the Nor-Am Cup Super-G in Apex, Canada, earlier this month, Ganong is entering the Junior World Championship sitting pretty.According to the FIS Web site, Ganong is currently in third place in the Nor-Am circuit. That is not a ranking among juniors but among all Nor-Am Cup competitors. As a junior Ganong is ranked first in super-G and second in downhill in the world heading into the World Championship from March 3-12.And being on the upswing at this point in the season will definitely work to his favor.Its totally a mental game, Ganong said of Alpine racing.When it comes to this year Ganongs first season as a national team racer certitude is the major thing he says he has gained through his experience on the U.S. Ski Teams Development Team.I just have so much more confidence, Ganong said. I know what it takes to win.Not only has Ganongs experience so far this year showed him what it takes to win, it has shown him that he can win.So while the North Tahoe native says that his first trip to the Junior World Championship will be all about having fun and soaking up the experience, a medal is definitely not out of the question.This year is more of an experience year for me, Ganong said. But it would be great to walk away with a medal.With so many of todays young skiers aspiring for the rock star status of big mountain freeskiers, to see Ganong standing under the Olympic Rings at Squaw Valley with KT-22 behind him brings that dichotomy to the forefront. Ganong said he has learned from local freeskiers like Scott Gaffney, Shane McConkey and Jason Abraham all of whom have told him to keep up the good work on the race course, even if they do concede that he rips up extreme lines like no one else.But as a skier in the infancy of his career, Ganong seems to know he can have both.My ultimate goal would be to medal in Whistler and then just freeski, Ganong said.Heading into his first World Championship with impressive points, regardless of age, and the ability to inspire whoops and hollers from one of the worlds most extreme chairlifts, it seems that young Ganong can do anything he wants.
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