Out of the post-Olympic delirium surrounding the first gold medal connected with Carrabassett Valley Academy emerged more cause for celebration – from a rising star who hopes he’ll win CVA’s second gold.

Three days after the closing ceremonies in Turin, 19-year-old Dave DiGravio of Farmington captured a bronze medal in only his fourth start as a World Cup mogul skier.

On the heels of Seth Wescott’s Olympic gold in snowboardcross, DiGravio delivered notice that he could be next in 2010 by finishing third in the March 1 World Cup competition at Jisan Forest, South Korea.

“I always dreamed of this,” DiGravio said during a week of training and family time at Sugarloaf/USA before flying to British Columbia today in preparation for the final World Cup event of the winter. “I didn’t know I would be 19 the first time I made it to the podium. I thought maybe it was a year or two away.”

Indeed, while DiGravio has enjoyed a solid rookie season on the circuit, the adornment around his neck in the Far East seemed to fall out of the blue.

Five weeks after his career-best finish of sixth at Lake Placid, N.Y., DiGravio struggled to 14th in his first run.

“Nobody comes from 14th to make it up to the podium,” said DiGravio. “I just skied pretty much the best run I could have come up with in that situation. When I ski my best, I know I’m one of the top guys out there. It was one of the flatter pitched courses I’ve skied this year.”

That allowed DiGravio to take advantage of perhaps his greatest asset: speed. Coupled with the high degree of difficulty in his stunts on the jumps and bumps that characterize a freestyle moguls course, DiGravio put enough points on the board to pull off the mammoth comeback.

Among the competitors the 2005 CVA graduate leapfrogged on his way to the medal ceremony was American teammate David Babic of Washington, Vt. DiGravio also was the top U.S. skier at a pre-Olympic event in Madonna Dicampiglio, Italy, finishing 10th.

“This isn’t an easy course,” U.S. coach Donnie St. Pierre said in a news release after the South Korea competition. “It’s straight and you have to be on your game because there’s no room to make up for any mistakes. So it was a little bit of a Cinderella story for DiGravio and a nice reward for his hard work this season.”

Located on winding Route 27 at the foot of Sugarloaf, CVA earned its reputation as a cradle of champions. But while much of the media attention has focused on alpine alums Bode Miller and Kirsten Clark, Wescott and DiGravio are hardly the first CVA products to strike a blow for the non-traditionalists.

Also an all-state high school football player at Mt. Blue, DiGravio had ample role models in his winter school surroundings at CVA. Brenda Petzold, Emily Cook and Boyd Easley each tasted national and international success in freestyle after honing their skills at Sugarloaf in the 1990s.

Now, even though he’s only beginning his leg of the journey, DiGravio already pictures himself passing the torch.

“It definitely added to the excitement that people already had around here because of Seth,” DiGravio said of his World Cup breakthrough. “It makes an impression on all the younger kids. They know if they ski hard and work hard, they can accomplish something like this.

“It’s a great opportunity. There aren’t many people who get to travel all around the world and ski as many different places as I get to. I’m very thankful for it.”

DiGravio didn’t secure his spot on the World Cup roster until Dec. 9, when he won a U.S. Ski Team selection meet at Winter Park, Colo.

That earned DiGravio a two-event probationary period, of sorts, and the sixth-place performance in New York protected his place for the remainder of the season.

“I knew he could do it,” said Ron DiGravio, Daves father and a freestyle coach at CVA. “I just knew it was a matter of getting to the World Cup level and skiing consistently the way he knows how.”

After this weekend’s World Cup season finale, DiGravio moves on to Killington, Vt., for the Sprint U.S. Freestyle Championships from March 23-26.

Summer training camps will follow. While friends and former classmates envision DiGravio making another trip to B.C. in four years for the 2010 Winter Games, he acknowledges that it’s a steep hill.

“I definitely want to go to the Olympics. If it doesn’t happen, I’d be pretty disappointed,” DiGravio said. “But right now, I’m not really thinking about it. I’m just looking toward the next event. There’s a lot of business to do in four years. There are different little things I need to perfect before I can do what I want to do in World Cup.”


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