#1: FIS World Cup Ski Racing Update: Shiffrin Finishes Strong, Breezy Johnson Continues Terrific Downhill Pace:
Well, after an absolutely thrilling two week stretch in the world of ski racing, we find ourselves coming back down to earth a bit this week. At our last check in, we found ourselves recapping the very end of the 2021 Cortina World Ski Championships, where the U.S. Ski Team performed incredibly well, particularly in the women’s division. This week, the circuit settled down as things returned to normal, with the women competing in two Downhill races as well as a Super G, and the men competing in two Giant Slaloms. We also managed to report last week on the first of the two women’s Downhill races, where Breezy Johnson kept up her incredible season with a 5th place finish. Unfortunately, in the second Downhill race a day later, Johnson was unable to finish. But, it wasn’t all bad news for the U.S. Women’s team that day. In that race, Women’s team athlete Isabella Wright finished in 14th place, earning her first ever top 15 finish on the World Cup circuit. Another day later, in the Super G race, Breezy Johnson recovered from the previous day’s folly, earning a 10th place finish, her best result ever in the discipline. On the men’s side, things were a bit quieter, apart from River Radamus’s 14th place finish in the first of two Giant Slaloms, also marking his career best. Looking ahead, the women find themselves in Jasna, Slovakia for a Slalom and Giant Slalom race this weekend, while the men are in Saalbach-Hinterglemm, Austria for two Downhill races and a Super G. As you’ve come to expect, we’ll be back next week to recap all the action. In the meantime, you can keep an eye on results on the FIS website.
#2: Boston Globe Highlights Ryan Cochran-Siegle and the Cochran Family Legacy:
In other ski news this week, we caught an excellent article from the Boston Globe that highlights both U.S. Ski Team member Ryan Cochran-Siegle, as well as the Cochran family’s ski racing legacy. For those unaware, the Cochran family is somewhat legendary both in the sport of skiing as well as within our region. Located approximately 30 minutes from the SkiEssentials headquarters here in Stowe, the Cochran family has owned and operated the Cochran Ski Area since the 1960’s. Ever since the beginning, the ski slope has operated as a community center to introduce recreational skiers to the sport, as well as a proving ground for world class ski racers, particularly those of the Cochran pedigree. That claim can be substantiated in a number of ways, such as the fact that the four Cochran children who grew up skiing at the area all represented the U.S. team in the Olympics, with Barbara Ann Cochran winning the gold medal in slalom in the 1972 Winter Olympics. Since that initial group of four Cochran’s, an additional six have made it to the U.S. Ski Team in the years since. Currently, the star of that bunch is Ryan Cochran-Siegle.
If you’ve followed along with FIS ski racing news for the first half of this year or last, you’re likely aware that Ryan Cochran-Siegle’s star has been rising steadily. At the start of this year, we even shared a highlight that took a closer look at his mentality heading into the year. With ambitions of having a breakout season and establishing himself as a name to watch in the world of ski racing, RCS was determined to ski loose and fast, leaving it all on the hill. At first, that plan went perfectly, earning him a silver medal in a Downhill race at Val Gardena, followed up by the first Super-G gold medal by an American since 2006 at a race in Bormio in late December. And then, just as quickly as his momentum had picked up, it was stopped in its tracks by a crash at a downhill race in Kitzbuehel about a month later. While that crash looked more devastating than it was, it still resulted in the conclusion of Cochran’s season, making his Olympic dreams just slightly more difficult to reach. Still, that remains his goal: to represent both the U.S. and the Cochran family at the 2022 Winter Olympics. To read far more about this story, and tons of interesting details, we’ll send you over to the Boston Globe.
#3: U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team and the National Brotherhood of Skiers Announce Four Year Partnership:
Moving right along, we have our third ski racing themed highlight of the week, although this one is a touch different. Just two weeks ago, we shared with you a couple of articles covering efforts led by the black community to force the issue of racial diversity in skiing. In that highlight, we shared the thoughts of Henri Rivers, the president of the National Brotherhood of Skiers, an organization dedicated to uniting black skiers in America and promoting participation in the sport. Amongst the many comments Rivers made, was the idea that there should be more outreach programs to actively recruit black youth to the sport of skiing. Well, as it turns out, just two weeks later we have what feels like significant progress towards making that happen. This week, we learned that the U.S. Ski Team has officially partnered with the National Brotherhood of Skiers to not only achieve the goal of introducing skiing to more minorities, but also to support elite level athletes from the black community. More specifically, the U.S. Ski Team will provide funding, outreach, training, and ultimately a pipeline for elite athletes to navigate their way to the U.S. Ski Team. In other words, the goal of this partnership is really to develop pathways and opportunities for athletes in black communities to capitalize on their talents in the same way that white athletes have been able to for decades. To put it plainly, this is truly amazing news. With this new partnership, not only have specific actions been taken to diversify the sport of skiing, but it also opens the door to an entire demographic of athletes that could ultimately become the new faces of the U.S. Ski Team.
That particular point ultimately brings up some seriously mixed emotions. Looking back, it’s borderline sickening to think about the fact that ski racing has remained unofficially closed to people of color for so long. Considering how long ago racial barriers were torn down in other sports, there’s something of a cloud of shame that lingers over skiing’s lack of acceptance. While our culture prides itself in leading the world in many ways, racial inclusion has not been one of them. Ultimately, these unspoken barriers to entry have undoubtedly robbed the U.S. Ski Team of potentially great athletes that could’ve helped the team immensely. On the other hand however, as we look forward, it’s exciting to think of the possibilities that now lay ahead as an entirely new generation and demographic filled with talent could soon be making their way onto the team. It’s as if an immense pool of talent that had been ignored for decades has finally been invited to the table, at which it will undoubtedly prove its potential immediately. Regardless of who you are, the announcement of this pipeline is incredible news. To learn more about this new partnership, check out the official press release from the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team.
#4: New Documentary Shows Us the True Life of Warren Miller:
Finally, we end this week with an article that’s not particularly joyful, but at least falls within the “entertainment” category and is intriguing nonetheless. In a review from Outside Online this week, we learned about a new documentary aptly titled, “Ski Bum,” that chronicles the life of legendary ski filmmaker Warren Miller. Chances are, you know the name. Warren Miller is more or less the face of ski cinematography, particularly in regards to his reach into mainstream audiences. One of the pioneers of the category, Miller began making ski films way back in 1949, with his release of Deep and Light. Since then, his iconically calm, inviting, and encouraging voice overs have become staples of ski culture as he guidesaudiences through his many films. Unfortunately though, as we’ve learned from this article and documentary, Miller’s life wasn’t quite as rosy as you might guess. Overcoming a number of hardships as a youth, Miller’s initial love for the mountains came about as a means of escape. Later on, in adult life, working on his films became another way to escape the pressures of his life. Unfortunately, the traveling required for ski filming, combined with his workaholic nature, only added to the stress in his life. To be totally transparent, we’re being intentionally vague here, partially because we don’t want to give too much away, and partially because we haven’t actually watched the film yet ourselves.That said, it’s certainly on our weekend to-do list. To learn more about the film, check out this writeup from Outside Online. To learn how you can watch it yourself, check out the filmmaker’s LinkTree.