Preparing for his final run at the half pipe in the Freestyle Skiing Junior Olympics in New Hampshire, Oakdale sophomore Neal Cadra got some last minute advice from a coach who told him to go for a trick he had never landed in competition.
“My coach told me he knew I could do it,” Cadra said. “He said just go for it, so I did.”
Having already landed a Japan Air, Alley-oop 180 and 540, Cadra picked up momentum into the last jump and delivered a difficult Alley-oop 360, landing the trick for what he considers the best combination of his freestyle career.
It didn’t go unnoticed.
Judges placed Cadra sixth in his age group and 15th overall among the nation’s 50 best young skiers. One event later, Cadra thrilled ski fans with a stellar leap across a span of 55 feet to earn a fifth place finish (16th out of 70 overall) in his Aerials age division.
“You just have to take the fear factor out of it and know that you are going to land your tricks,” Cadra said. “If you don’t, you get up and try it again.”
It was a fantastic finish for a skier ranked just 32nd in the nation for half pipe and 110th in Aerials (among juniors).
His runs were good enough to net an invitation to the U.S. Freestyle Skiing Nationals in Squaw Valley on March 25.
“This shows me that I can improve my skills when I need to,” Cadra said. “This is going to help me out with the rest of the season, into next year.”
Cadra followed up his big half pipe performance with some difficult maneuvers in Aerial competition 25 feet above the snow. The event allows for one long jump with a trick plan delivered to officials prior to the run for a judgment based on execution accurate to the skiers’ plan.
The Mustang underclassman went with a Cork-1080, spinning horizontally across the sky before a big landing that earned him a great score.
Cadra also competes with the Oakdale swim team, though recent exploits on freestyle skiing’s national stage have not allowed him to participate in a meet or tournament so far this season.
But Cadra is getting plenty of action from his skiing career, and workouts with the Mustang swimmers does wonders for his strength and conditioning on the snow.
“Swimming helps me stay in shape for skiing and really works on my arms, legs,” Cadra said. “It’s a bit different but I enjoy it.”