Ryan Cochran-Siegle Was Sitting in Third When the Aspen World Cup Downhill Was Cancelled
Twenty-four racers started in America's Downhill before officials cancelled the race due to deteriorating conditions.
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Ski racing in Aspen is rooted in history. Since the first Roch Cup in 1946, American skiing legends like Buddy Werner, Billy Kidd, Tamara McKinney, and Bill Johnson have etched their names in both Roch Cup and World Cup trophies at the Colorado resort.
But history has its dark side too, with American downhillers having had their share of bad luck here. In both 1993 and 1995, AJ Kitt was leading downhills at Aspen when a course rut (1993) and bad weather (1995) interrupted the races. At least in 1995, he got to keep the belt buckle trophy and the winner’s check.
Today, Ryan Cochran-Siegle suffered similar misfortune at the Aspen World Cup downhill. The 30-year-old Olympic silver medalist sat in third place through 24 racers—notably, all the top seeds. But the wind picked up and snow started falling hard—yet more snow in a Colorado winter that seems to have had more snowy days than not. After a series of course holds, officials canceled the race.
“As skiers, you want a fair race,” said RCS, as he’s known, after his run but before the race was canceled. “I don’t know if that’s really the case at this point. But I’m happy with my skiing, regardless of how everything ends up.”
It would have been RCS’s second World Cup podium finish and first since December 2020. FIS rules state that a one-run competition can be classified as official if the best 30 skier have started the race.
Sharing in the misfortune was race leader Adrian Smiseth Sejersted, a 28-year-old Norwegian who raced with bib 1 and sat in the leader’s chair for the duration. The 2014 junior world downhill champion, Sejersted only has two World Cup podiums on his resume—both in super-G—and no race wins. His best World Cup downhill finish was fifth in the Hahnenkamm this year, as well as at Beaver Creek in 2019.
Today’s cancellation also impacted the fight for the men’s World Cup downhill title. Austria’s Vincent Kriechmayr was sitting in second place before the cancellation, four spots above Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, who leads the downhill standings with 620 points to Kriechmayr’s 464. Had the race not been cancelled, Kriechmayr would have erased 40 points from his deficit, giving him a slightly better chance of winning his first World Cup downhill title.
Racers outside the top 25 in downhill were also vying for a spot at World Cup finals, including American downhill veterans Bryce Bennett and Sam Morse, who had hoped to gain big points on home snow. Bennett was wearing bib 29.
The men will get one more chance to race what’s called America’s Downhill tomorrow. While the skies are not expected to clear overnight, the chance of precipitation on Saturday drops to 24 percent (or zero percent, depending on which app you’re using).
In a World Cup season that’s been bedeviled by snow—either too much as at Palisades Tahoe last weekend or too little, as in most of Europe earlier this winter—it seemed fitting that yet another race would get canceled by nature’s fickleness. And as if to flip the bird to the ski-racing community, nature turned Aspen Mountain into a snow globe just a couple hours before a World Cup for Climate panel in Aspen’s Wagner Park to discuss how to bring systematic change to what could become a snowless world.
No matter what the weather brings for the next two days, with one more downhill and then a super-G scheduled for Sunday, the 24 men who got a chance to race the course today essentially got an extra training run. And RCS plans to take advantage of it.
Here’s how to live stream all the action from the 2023 Aspen World Cup races.