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River Radamus of Edwards scored his best career World Cup result Sunday as the men’s circuit kicked off on the Rettenbach Glacier in Soelden, Austria, powering his way to a sixth-place finish in the second run behind winner Marco Odermatt of Switzerland.
Radamus was .68 back of Odermatt’s winning two-run time of two minutes, 5.94 seconds. Roland Leitinger of Austria was second (2:06.01), and Zan Kranjec (2:06.04) of Slovenia rounded out the podium in third.
Radamus barely made it out of the first run with an acrobatic save that earned him ninth. His solid second run put him in sixth overall.
Here’s how the Associated Press reported it:
“Radamus avoided crashing out when his right ski came up high in the air and the American did well to stay on the course and post the ninth-fastest time in his first run. He added an attacking but solid second run to gain three spots and finish .68 behind Odermatt.
“’I just really wanted to go in the season charging and leave it all out there,'” Radamus told the AP. “’I feel like I’ve had the speed in training. And so I am just trying to be more fearless, take it to it more and try to attack. I made a lot of mistakes, but it paid off in the end because I was pushing the limit.’”
“Radamus was the junior world champion in GS in 2019 but has struggled to replicate those results in World Cup races.
“’I felt like too many times last year, I regretted the turns that I didn’t charge as opposed to the mistakes I made,’” he said. “’I am really proud of my intensity and proud of my effort.’”
“Radamus attracted attention not only for his skiing, but also for keeping up his tradition of arriving at the season-opening race in Austria sporting a colorful do.
“’Just to kick off the season,’” he said, pointing to the panther-like colors on his head. “’This one is from [Vail product] Chad Fleischer, American great speed skier from years past. So, it’s my tribute to him, it’s cool and it gets a lot of comments.’”
Radamus, 23, picked up 40 World Cup points Sunday in his quest to qualify for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China, in February. His previous best finish in 39 World Cup starts was a seventh in the team parallel event last March in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.
His best individual finish on the regular circuit came last February with a 14th in a World Cup giant slalom in Bansko, Bulgaria, but by far his best career results to date came just prior to Bansko with a 10th in the parallel event and an 11th in the GS at the World Championships in Cortina, Italy.
Radamus talked about his game plan heading into Soelden in an article in Ski Racing just three days ago.
“The goal is to increase my rankings, get in the top 15, make the Olympics, and perform at a higher level than I did last year, but I need to recognize some of that is out of my control,” said Radamus. “The bigger thing is to make sure I’m doing what I can to prepare as much as I can, and to put myself in a position where I can execute as much as I can. As long as I’ve done that, where I haven’t left anything on the table, whatever the ranking will be, will be accepted by me because I’ll be proud of it knowing the work I’ve put in.”
Radamus also talked about his Olympic dreams: “No kid grows up as an athlete in an Olympic sport and doesn’t dream about going to the olympics,” shared Radamus. “I’d be lying if i didn’t say that wasn’t a huge goal for me. I don’t want to focus on it so much I lose sight of the bigger picture and the things that get me there.”
Next up for the men is a parallel event Nov. 14 in Lech Zuers, Austria, sister resort of Beaver Creek, which hosts a men’s World Cup Dec. 3-5.
Here’s the full press release on Sunday’s race from Megan Harrod of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team:
It was another perfect day on the Rettenbach glacier, with the young River Radamus donning a new Chad Fleischer (U.S. Ski Team alumnus)-inspired “snow leopard” ‘do leading the charge with a career-best sixth-place under the sunshine in Soelden, Austria to kick off the highly-anticipated Olympic season.
A young American squad led by veteran and 2020 Bormio World Cup super-G victor Ryan Cochran-Siegle, including Radamus, Bridger Gile, and Global Racing’s George Steffey and Patrick Kenney (University of New Hampshire) took on the what is the longest, steepest, most sustained pitch of any FIS Ski World Cup giant slalom on the tour. For the young squad, it was a promising start, despite Radamus being the only one to qualify for the second run.
Veteran teammate Tommy Ford, who had a season-ending crash last year at Adelboden, Switzerland, sustaining knee and hand injuries and a concussion, posted a message of encouragement to his teammates on Instagram early Sunday morning. In the post, he said, “I miss my team and the cold mornings. Go team go! My knee is coming back. It has felt slow, but it hasn’t even been a year.” Radamus replied to the message, saying “miss ya tommy❤️ i’ll try to send one for ya today.” And “send” he did!
Coming out of the gate bib 26, Radamus didn’t want to leave anything on the piste, taking risks left and right and making two incredible Bode Miller-esque recoveries in his first run, crossing the finish line in an incredible ninth place and setting himself up for a stellar second run. When asked by the media if he was trying to channel U.S. Ski Team alumnus and Olympic champion Miller, Radamus replied, “I wasn’t trying to imitate anyone…I was just trying to make it down, to be honest with you.” He continued, “I’m really trying to take that mentality—the fearless mentality—like Bode and a lot of guys from America have, so yeah—I’m really proud of the recoveries I had to make there. And I really hope to keep pushing the limit on the next run too.”
The margins were super-tight in this deep men’s giant slalom field, with Austria’s Roland Leitinger in leading the charge, followed by France’s Mathieu Faivre .19 seconds back, and rounded out by Swiss phenom Marco Odermatt, .21 seconds out. Radamus was .85 out father the first run, and knew he had to put it all out there in the second run in order to score a solid result. With yet another run that put fans on the edge of their seats with thrilling recoveries and solid skiing, Radamus skied down into the lead ahead of Norway’s Lucas Braathen by a slim margin of four-hundredths of a second. It looked as if his lead would hold for a while, as he sat in the leaderboard with a big smile on his face, donning his new snow leopard hairstyle.
In the end, Radamus—whose previous best was 14th last season in Bansko, Bulgaria—ended up an impressive career-best sixth place on the track that former teammate, hero, and mentor Ted Ligety won a record four times in the span of five years. Radamus was ecstatic with the result, saying, “I really felt like I’ve had a lot of races where I’ve done well the first run, and haven’t been able to execute the same way on second run…whether it’s conscious or unconscious, just backing off – so I really really tried to make sure I left it all out there and made sure I left no regrets on the table,” he said. “I made a couple of mistakes again, but I was pushing my limits again, and I’m happy with the performance. I felt like I’ve had the pace all summer, and with that it almost feels like more pressure because I had more expectations on myself to perform. So coming here and executing the way that I did gives me a lot of confidence rolling into the rest of the season…but at the end of the day I try to keep the mentality that I do everything I can to prepare, and I live with the results regardless. But this is an easier one to live with for sure.”
On the topic of his hair…which was turning many heads, Radamus shared, “The last three years I’ve done a special haircut for Soelden—I did a mullet bowl cut last year, and the year before I did it all blue and green…so I just like to do this little tradition of mine to change it up and get a new look going for the season.” He continued, “This year it’s inspired by past U.S. Ski Team speed legend Chad Fleischer, who used to have hair like this—the snow leopard—I wanted to carry that tradition forward, and carry that, sort of like, free spirit American-style forward.”
Cochran-Siegle, who suffered from a “minor broken neck”, when he crashed on the Hahnenkamm at Kitzbuehel, Austria last season, returned to competition for the first time in 275 days. He missed qualifying for the second run by a mere one hundredth of a second. In the sport of ski racing, missing the flip by a margin this tiny can be defeating, though Cochran-Siegle is putting it into perspective and knows there’s a long season ahead—in which he’ll focus on the speed events and less so on giant slalom.
“I thought I was skiing well, I was just holding on too much,” he said. “The conditions, and also the strength of every other skier here is really competitive, and I just needed to bring more on this run.”
Up next for the men’s and women’s U.S. Ski Team crew is a training block at U.S. Ski Team Speed and Tech Center at Copper Mountain, Colo., then a parallel World Cup event in Lech, Austria, before returning to the North American races on the World Cup tour.
Men’s giant slalom