Ryan Cochran-Siegle’s first Alpine skiing World Cup win ends 14-year U.S. drought

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Barbara Ann Cochran, the 1972 Olympic slalom champion, screamed and screamed as she watched — on a screen from her Vermont home at 5:45 a.m. — as her son, Ryan Cochran-Siegle, descended to his first win in his 101st World Cup start.

“As if I’m right there on the hill, like he could hear me,” she said. “Hopefully, I’m not waking the neighbors up.”

Her phone flooded with messages. Later that morning, Cochran, who turns 70 on Monday, did what she’s been doing regularly for the last 40 years. She gave a ski lesson at Cochran’s Ski Area in Richmond, Vt. Afterward, she was able to connect by phone with her son, a skier since age 2.

Cochran-Siegle, a 28-year-old from an extended family of Olympians and World Cup skiers, notched one of the Skiing Cochrans’ greatest achievements in Bormio, Italy, on Tuesday.

The breakthrough on Alpine skiing’s highest level marked the first World Cup super-G victory for a U.S. man since Bode Miller in 2006. (Ted Ligety won the super-G among three golds at the world championships in 2013.)

Cochran-Siegle prevailed by .79 of a second over Austrian Vincent Kriechmayr — the largest margin in the discipline in nearly five years. Norwegian Adrian Smiseth Sejersted took third. Full results are here.

“I don’t think it’s hit yet,” Cochran-Siegle said on ORF, laughing about not having a sponsor sticker on the front of his helmet and believing his mother was likely crying back home. “You always dream of it as a kid, and to be here now is special.”

It became the 33rd bullet point on the family’s Wikipedia page. The timeline begins in 1961, when grandparents Mickey and Ginny began offering after-school lessons on the backyard rope tow, and Cochran’s Ski Area was founded.

Barbara remembers giving her first lesson when she was 10, to a young couple in their 20s. This was back when the ski fare was 25 cents to use the rope tow that Mickey installed behind the house and opened to the public.

Cochran-Siegle no doubt learned plenty from his mom, but she was never his coach. (Barbara does recall a young Ryan taking a run and smashing through a lodge window — “half-in, half-out” — leaving an indelible scar on his behind.)

By 2012, Cochran-Siegle won the world junior titles in the downhill and combined, just before his 20th birthday. He appeared destined to be the next great Skiing Cochran when, at the following year’s senior world championships, he tore an ACL and MCL in the combined.

“The doctors actually felt that he wouldn’t come back from that,” Barbara said. “I felt like it really took him about six years to recover to the point where he would have been.”

Cochran-Siegle raced just once on the World Cup over the next three years, missing the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

His first World Cup top-10 came on this day four years ago, also in Italy (Santa Caterina). His first podium came 10 days ago, also in Italy (Val Gardena, where his mom won a 1970 World Championships slalom silver medal.)

“Having success in Gardena, I feel like I can trust myself now, trust to just let things flow,” he said Tuesday. “There’s a certain [level] of confidence that I have right now that allows me to ski with what looks like a little bit of risk but also kind of carrying with some smooth skiing.”

Mom also watched and screamed during that Val Gardena downhill, where Cochran-Siegle placed second for the first speed podium for a U.S. man in nearly four years. The U.S. has been waiting for its next gold-medal male downhiller since Miller last raced in 2015.

“I always get nervous,” she said, “but I felt a little less nervous this time knowing how well he did last weekend.”

There was more concern a few weeks ago. Cochran-Siegle, who lived with his mom from March to June of this year, began this season by failing to finish the first two giant slaloms in October and November.

In between, he took part in the national championships and placed third and fourth in the super-G and downhill in fields lacking the top World Cup racers. Then, in the first World Cup super-G of the season on Dec. 12, he made a major mistake and finished 47th of 50 racers, 3.16 seconds behind the winner.

Barbara checked in on him. She recalled a November SkiRacing.com article where her son was quoted saying that he wanted “to be a top-five contender every time I step into the starting gate.” Cochran-Siegle had one career top-five finish before this season — a fifth.

“That’s a good goal,” she said, “but you don’t want to be thinking that when you’re in the start because it just puts too much pressure on you.”

Since that day, Cochran-Siegle has recorded three top-10s in five races. He was in the top 10 in all four downhill training runs in that span, including posting the fastest time in Bormio on Saturday and Sunday.

That makes him a favorite for Wednesday’s downhill, the last race of 2020 (5:30 a.m. ET, Olympic Channel and Peacock Premium).

“I don’t think I’m the favorite tomorrow,” he said. “Watching video yesterday, I think there were a lot of good skiers. I’m still young. I’m still learning.”

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Gaon Choi breaks Chloe Kim record, youngest X Games snowboard halfpipe champion

Gaon Choi
Jamie Schwaberow/X Games
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South Korean Gaon Choi broke Chloe Kim‘s record as the youngest X Games snowboard halfpipe champion, winning at age 14 on Saturday in Aspen, Colorado.

Choi, the world junior champion, landed three different 900s in her third of four runs to overtake two-time U.S. Olympian Maddie Mastro. She then landed a frontside 1080 in her fourth run.

In a format introduced three years ago, athletes were ranked on overall impression of their best run over the course of a jam session rather than scoring individual runs.

Choi became the first Winter X Games medalist for South Korea, a nation with a best Olympic halfpipe finish of 14th. She is six months younger than Kim was when Kim won the first of her five X Games Aspen halfpipe titles in 2015.

“I began snowboarding because of Chloe Kim and now almost being near her level when she was 14, it feels weird that I can see a possibility that I would go beyond her some day,” Choi said through a translator, according to organizers. “I’m already starting to look forward to the next Olympics.”

Kim, the daughter of South Korean immigrants, posted that she has known Choi for almost a decade.

“I feel like a proud Mom,” she posted. “The future of snowboarding’s in good hands.”

Kim, the only woman to land back-to-back 1080s in a contest, is taking this season off after repeating as Olympic champion but plans to return ahead of the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games.

Mastro, who was 12th and 13th at the last two Olympics, landed her patented double crippler (two back flips) on two of her runs, but it wasn’t enough. She was the last woman to beat Kim at the 2019 U.S. Open.

Earlier, American Colby Stevenson earned his second X Games ski slopestyle title, one year after taking silver in ski big air’s Olympic debut. Stevenson, who was one millimeter from brain damage in a 2016 car crash, capped his first two of four runs with 1620s, according to commentators, taking the lead for good after the latter.

American Alex Hall, the Olympic slopestyle champion, was seventh.

Later, Japan’s Reira Iwabuchi won women’s snowboard big air, highlighted by a triple underflip. The field lacked 2021 X Games champion Jamie Anderson (pregnant) and 2018 and 2022 Olympic champion Anna Gasser of Austria. Iwabuchi was fourth at the last two Olympics.

Gasser withdrew moments before the competition after placing seventh in Friday’s slopestyle, according to commentators.

Zoe Atkin became the first British female skier to win an X Games title, taking the halfpipe in the absence of Olympic champion Eileen Gu of China. Atkin had two 720s in her fourth and final run to overtake Olympic bronze medalist Rachael Karker of Canada.

Atkin, the 20-year-old and Stanford student and younger sister of 2018 Olympic slopestyle bronze medalist Izzy Atkin, was ninth at the Olympics and never previously won an X Games medal.

Gu withdrew on Friday with a knee injury from a training crash.

ON HER TURF: U.S. freeskier Maggie Voisin on grief, loss, finding motivation

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Madison Chock, Evan Bates win historic U.S. ice dance title for figure skaters in their 30s

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Madison Chock and Evan Bates won their fourth national ice dance title at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships and made all sorts of longevity history.

Chock and Bates, fourth at the Olympics and third at last March’s world championships, totaled 229.75 points between the rhythm dance and free dance. They prevailed by 22.29 over Caroline Green and Michael Parsons, the largest margin of victory in a U.S. ice dance since it was shortened from three programs to two in 2011.

“This is probably the best we’ve ever skated in our careers,” Bates said on NBC. “I think that’s the statement that we wanted to make.”

Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko took bronze but are likely to be left off the three-couple team for March’s world championships in favor of Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, last year’s U.S. bronze medalists who planned to petition for a worlds spot after withdrawing before nationals citing mental health.

Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, the top U.S. couple at the 2022 Olympics (bronze) and 2022 Worlds (silver), retired after last season.

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Full Scores | Broadcast Schedule

Chock, 30, and Bates, 33, who are engaged, became the first dance couple in their 30s to win a U.S. title in the modern era (at least the last 50 years).

Chock and Bates made the nationals podium for an 11th consecutive year, one shy of the record for any discipline.

Bates, who last year became the oldest U.S. champion in any discipline in decades, has made 13 career senior nationals podiums with Chock and former partner Emily Samuelson. It is believed that breaks the U.S. record for a single discipline that he shared with Michelle KwanNathaniel Niles and Theresa Weld Blanchard.

Those records matter less to Chock and Bates than what they’re hoping is a career first in March: a world championships gold medal.

They earned silver or bronze a total of three times. All of the teams that beat them at last year’s Olympics and worlds aren’t competing this season, but Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier defeated Chock and Bates at December’s Grand Prix Final, which is a sort-of dress rehearsal for worlds.

“If we don’t win gold at worlds, we’ll be disappointed,” Bates, whose first senior nationals in 2008 came when new U.S. women’s singles champion Isabeau Levito was 10 months old, said earlier this month. “We’ve set the goal for ourselves in he past and haven’t met it yet.”

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