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Saturday, March 25, 2023

Ryan Cochran-Siegle wins super-G silver 50 years after mother’s gold


BEIJING — Austrian skier Matthias Mayer defended his title in the super-G on Tuesday (Monday night PT) at the Beijing Games and added a third Olympic gold medal to his collection, while American Ryan Cochran-Siegle finished second 50 years after his mother won an Olympic gold medal.

Mayer broke Norway’s 16-year grip on the men’s Olympic super-G title when he won gold at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games. That was four years after he won the downhill title at the Sochi Olympics.

The 31-year-old Mayer also earned bronze on Monday in the rescheduled men’s downhill. Swiss rival Beat Fuez won that event but skied out near the top in Tuesday’s race.

Cochran-Siegle, who is from Vermont, finished second, 0.04 seconds behind Mayer.

“What’s up Vermont? Hope that holds,” the 29-year-old Cochran-Siegle said after crossing the finish line.

Cochran-Siegle’s silver medal came almost 50 years to the day after his mother, Barbara Ann, won gold in the slalom at the 1972 Sapporo Games.

World Cup super-G leader Aleksander Aamodt Kilde of Norway finished third, 0.42 behind Mayer, on the course known as The Rock.

Marco Odermatt of Switzerland was among the favorites but he lost control on a turn and went out shortly before the end of the course. Odermatt was slower than Kilde at the final checkpoint.

The 24-year-old Odermatt put his hands over his helmet as he skied down and then put his head on the barrier near the finish line. Odermatt, who is skiing in his first Olympics, finished seventh in the downhill.

Kilde and Odermatt have dominated the super-G this season. Kilde has won three of the five World Cup races in the discipline to lead the standings over Odermatt, who has won the other two. Mayer is third in the standings.

Kilde is still seeking his first win in a major championship. He was fifth in Monday’s downhill in what was then his highest finish in nine Olympic starts.

For members of Vermont’s “Skiing Cochrans” clan, competing in an Olympics is a right of passage. A family tradition.

First, there were siblings Marilyn, Bobby and Barbara Ann at the 1972 Sapporo Games, fulfilling a plan hatched by their parents, Mickey and Ginny Cochran, in the backyard ski area.

Then younger sister Lindy raced at the Innsbruck Games in 1976, grandson Jimmy was on the US Ski Team in 2006 and 2010 and now Ryan Cochran-Siegle is at his second Olympics.

“It’s always cool when I go back home just talking about what it’s like and having that little sharing session,” Cochran-Siegle said.

So how was it growing up the son of an Olympic champion?

“She’s still just my mom,” Cochran-Siegle said. “Most of our conversations are pretty normal.”

That’s because modesty is also a Cochran tradition.

In a recent video interview, Barbara Ann said she didn’t even realize that this year marks the 50th anniversary of her victory until a reporter brought it up.

“I hadn’t even thought about that,” she said. “It’s been a long time.”

She hasn’t, however, forgotten what happened on Feb. 11, 1972.

“It was much harder for me to get up on the podium than it was to actually race,” Barbara Ann said. “I really enjoyed the racing. But I didn’t like all the attention that went along with it. I was really, really shy.”

Competitiveness was never an issue for Barbara Ann, though.

“Two years before I had come in second at the world championships and I saw the French flag being raised the highest and I didn’t like that,” she recalled. “So that was kind of like a seed that got planted for me that I wanted to win.”

Win she did – finishing ahead of two French women in Sapporo.

“It was close. I won the first run by three hundredths and lost the second run by one hundredth and overall won by two hundredths,” Barbara Ann said.

For Cochran-Siegle, just being at the Beijing Games is an achievement after he was the victim of a horrifying crash on the feared Streif course in Kitzbühel, Austria, a year ago. A fracture of the seventh cervical vertebra of his spine meant that he didn’t get back on skis until May and didn’t resume full training until August. Then he made the risky decision to switch ski brands.

A fourth-place result in a super-G in Bormio, Italy, in December marked a return to form in a race where he had posted his first World Cup victory a year earlier in what was a breakout season – until his injury.

Also in December 2020, Cochran-Siegle finished second in a downhill in Val Gardena, exactly a half-century after his mom won a silver medal in the world championships at the Italian resort.

World Nation News Desk
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