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Tommy Ford of Bend, Oregon, wowed the home crowd and absolutely annihilated the field to win his first podium and first FIS Ski World Cup win — by a massive .80 — at the Birds of Prey World Cup at Beaver Creek, leading three Land Rover U.S. Alpine Ski Team members into the top 30.
With snow coming in and out and visibility a challenge with thick fog wreaking havoc and causing delays on the Birds of Prey track, Ford’s cool and calm disposition enabled him to crush his first run to take the .20 lead over two Norwegians — Henrik Kristoffersen and Leif Kristian Nestvold-Haugen — with teammate Ted Ligety sitting in fourth.
The second run story was the same, with weather coming in and out, and snow falling. It was a straight set, and the guys knew they’d have to send it.
“I felt little raindrops in there, so that’s going to be interesting,” Ford said after the second run inspection. “The weather is coming in and out so that always makes things interesting. The snow conditions still feel good and it’s pretty smooth. The Talon Crew is already pushing the snow off so it should be good.”
Rounding out the podium was the Norwegian pair of Kristoffersen (.80 seconds back) and Nestvold-Haugen (1.23 seconds off the pace). Ford became the first American man to win a World Cup since teammate Travis Ganong won a downhill on Jan. 27, 2017, and the first American male podium finisher since Ted Ligety in January of 2018 in Garmisch, Germany. This result ended the longest drought for the Land Rover U.S. Alpine Ski Team since the late 1990s.
Beaver Creek has been a special place for Ford, as he scored his first top-10 result on the track in 2017, and from then on kept rolling with career-best results. In 2019, Ford had a steady stream of consistent results, with two sixth-place finishes, and a career-best fifth place at Alta Badia, Italy. He started the season off this year in Soelden, Austria finishing just off the podium (.07 seconds) in fourth — another career-best.
Ford missed the 2014 Olympics due to a fractured femur sustained while free skiing in France. He returned to the U.S. Ski Team but was sidelined for the 2013 World Championships and the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. It’s been a long, challenging road back — but Sunday was a particularly sweet taste of victory in front of a home crowd, his girlfriend and teammate Laurenne Ross, and his family and friends.
“Nothing beats doing it [winning] here. I’ve been working hard,” Ford said. “There’s no secret, just kept it simple and really trusted what I was doing, with solid and clean skiing. I am happy to be here in Beaver Creek, the Talon Crew is awesome, my friends and family are here — I feel so grateful. There were nerves coming and going — they always kind of are — but just letting them go is the key. I am just fortunate to have such great coaches, family and a great supporter in Mt. Bachelor back at home, which is all coming through in the skiing that I put down.”
Ligety, who was fourth after the first run, ended up 11th, while Ryan Cochran-Siegle was 23rd. River Radamus, Brian McLaughlin, and George Steffey — who made his World Cup debut on Sunday — all started but did not qualify for a second run. Sam Dupratt started but did not finish the first run.
Up next for the men is a giant slalom and slalom in Val d’Isere, France — a venue that also has been good to Ford. He scored a sixth place finish there last season, and it’s a track that suits his style. He’ll be bringing the red leader bib with him, as he’s currently leading the giant slalom standings with 150 points over Frenchman Mathieu Faivre’s 120 points.
Men’s Giant Slalom