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As the Xfinity Birds of Prey super-G came to a close on Sunday in Beaver Creek, Colorado, American fans hung their heads. High expectations had been set for Ryan Cochran-Siegle and Travis Ganong, last year’s Beaver Creek super-G bronze medalist. But today was not Team USA‘s day. Instead, it was Norwegian Aleksander Aamodt Kilde who nabbed his second win of the weekend. Switzerland’s Marco Odermatt was once again forced to settle for second behind Kilde, while France’s Alexis Pinturault rounded out the podium in third.
Watch: U.S. Ski Team highlights from the Birds of Prey super-G
On the American front, Cochran-Siegle, the Olympic super-G silver medalist, busted through a gate just above the finish and collected a DNF, though he skied away unscathed. Ganong lost his line in a more technical section of the course and couldn’t hold on to complete his run. Bib 51, Kyle Negomir, skied out early and was immediately followed by downhillers Jared Goldberg and Bryce Bennett, who finished but did not post point-scoring times.
It wasn’t until 24-year-old River Radamus pushed out of the start gate wearing bib 57 that a top-30 run seemed promising, and Radamus did not disappoint. The giant slalom specialist prides himself on a well-executed arced turn, much like his mentor and former U.S. Ski Teamer Ted Ligety. And fortunately, Sunday’s super-G course catered to that style. A technical upper section made way for a tech specialist like Radamus to generate speed and prep for an open bottom section that favored a downhiller’s intensity.
In the end, the Vail native skied through the finish in 16th to a roaring American crowd filled with friends and family. It was a better than expected performance for the young American who has only started in seven super-G events throughout his World Cup career, four of which ended in a DNF.
Watch: Podium runs from the Birds of Prey super-G
Yet despite disappointing super-G races in Beaver Creek in the past, Radamus never gave up hope of proving himself on home snow. He grew up watching the iconic Birds of Prey races as a kid and has distinct memories of legendary runs from American athletes like Andrew Weibrecht, who once skied from the back of the pack into 10th. The possibility of posting a top time despite a late start has always been on his mind, and finally, he was able to put one down.
“I’ve (competed) in this race since 2018 now, and I’ve never been able to score,” said Radamus. “It’s just slipped through my fingers so many times. All of the Americans consistently over-perform at this hill because the crowd just brings it alive, and you want to perform at home so much. It’s a whole different level knowing that your family and friends and neighbors are all in the crowd, and it makes it a special moment.”
Radamus said he would not be celebrating too much, mostly because he didn’t win, and that means there’s work to be done. He grew up racing against the likes of Norwegian athletes Atle McGrath and Lucas Braathen, who both broke into the top 10 from late bib numbers—and in their super-G World Cup debut to boot. McGrath, 22, finished fifth overall, while Braathen, also 22, finished seventh. It was the cherry on top of a great weekend for Team Norway, whose leading man, Aamodt Kilde, swept the series.
The battle between Kilde and Odermatt is shaping up to be as fierce as the rivalry between Kilde’s girlfriend, Mikaela Shiffrin, and Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova. Even though Odermatt laid down an impressive run to pull ahead of third-place finisher Pinturault, it wasn’t enough to fend off the Attacking Viking, who surpassed the 25-year-old by 0.20 seconds just minutes later.
Today’s win comes as Kilde’s third World Cup victory of the season and fourth consecutive podium finish (he won the opening downhill in Lake Louise and finished second in the super-G). He now leads the World Cup downhill standings by 40 points ahead of Odermatt, is tied with Odermatt in the super-G standings, and trails Odermatt in the overall by 40 points. It’s been a nearly perfect start to the season for Kilde, yet after this weekend’s races, he’s more impressed by the performance of his younger teammates and excited about what these team results signal for the rest of the season.
“I mean, what a day,” exclaimed Kilde. “It was unbelievable how they charged. I kind of (expected) it though, because I’ve seen them ski, and I know how they send it in races. There’s no respect, they just go for it.”
“Both of them [Atle McGrath and Lucas Braathen] grabbing a top 10 in their first super G race? It’s quite incredible. It won’t be the last time you’ll be seeing them (at the top).”
2022 Birds of Prey World Cup Super-G: Top 10 Finishers
|Aleksander Aamodt Kilde (NOR)||1:10.73|
|Marco Odermatt (SUI)||+0.20|
|Alexis Pinturault (FRA)||+0.30|
|Gino Caviezel (SUI)||+0.55|
|Atle Lie McGrath (NOR)||+0.57|
|Raphael Haaser (AUT)||+0.74|
|Lucas Braathen (NOR)||+0.79|
|Romed Baumann (GER)||+0.80|
|Vincent Kriechmayr (AUT)||+0.81|
|Matthias Mayer (AUT)||+1.03|
See the full results of the 2022 Birds of Prey World Cup super-G here.