American Ryan Cochran-Siegle Cracks Top 10 in Birds of Prey Downhill

This article originally appeared on Ski Mag

The highly-anticipated Xfinity Birds of Prey World Cup finally got underway in Beaver Creek, Colo., Saturday morning despite persistent wind gusts and 11 inches of snow leftover from the storm that cancelled Friday’s first downhill. And while “North America's Downhill” track skied slower than in years past due to weather conditions, it didn't stop Ryan Cochran-Siegle from putting on a show for the home team. The American finished seventh and led two other Americans into the top 30.

The Olympic super-G silver medalist seemed to be America's best shot at a podium finish after a strong showing in training earlier in the week. Fans held out hope at the beginning of Cochran-Siegle's run, posting a split just hundredths behind the leader, Aleksander Aamodt Kilde from Norway.

But Cochran-Siegle lost just enough speed in the pitchier sections of the course to knock him out of podium range. He flew through the final Red Tail jump 1.06 seconds behind Kilde, finishing seventh. Kilde held onto the lead to claim his second consecutive Beaver Creek downhill victory, with Switzerland’s Marco Odermatt in second and Canadian James Crawford rounding out the podium in third.

2022 Birds of Prey downhill podium finishers
Aleksander Aamodt Kilde of Norway, Marco Odermatt of Switzerland, and James Crawford of Canada on the podium after the Xfinity Birds of Prey Men’s Downhill at Beaver Creek Resort on December 03, 2022 in Beaver Creek, Colorado. (Photo: Dustin Satloff / U.S. Ski and Snowboard)

It wasn’t the result Cochran-Siegle had hoped for, but it was a welcome improvement from his first downhill race of the season in Lake Louise, where he finished ninth.

"You gotta ski with a lot of intensity and ski without abandon to be at the top," Cochran-Siegle reflected. "Lake Louise was a good start, but I left the necessary intensity that you need behind. Today, I had more of that. There were just a couple of little things here and there that pushed me off that top three."

"Obviously, not the same snow we were hoping for, but it was a fairly fair race," he added. "The weather was definitely an issue, but the best skier, Aleks Kilde, won."

Kilde hung on to the top spot by mere sixth hundredths, becoming the third man in a row to claim two consecutive Birds of Prey downhill victories (after Switzlerand’s Beat Feuz and Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal). Unsurprisingly, it was Odermatt who gave Kilde a run for his money and finished just off of Kilde’s winning time. Look for Odermatt to do the same in Sunday's super-G.

Related: Daron Rahlves names his 2022 Birds of Prey favorites

Kilde and Odermatt have long gone head-to-head in speed events, and the 22-’23 season is shaping up to be no different. Kilde started strong with a downhill win in Lake Louise, but Odermatt wasn't far behind. He finished third, only one-tenth of a second off Kilde's winning time. The 25-year-old came back in the super-G the following day, besting Kilde by 0.37 seconds.

Looking ahead to tomorrow’s race, Kilde is confident the podium is still up for grabs.

"It's a sport of small margins, but I know without mistakes, I can be fast," said Kilde. "I've found a really good setup in my equipment, but also in my skiing. I believe in myself, I trust in myself, and I have a good game plan. When I stand in the start, I don't dwell on anything. If I follow the plan, it's gonna be fast."

"Marco Odermatt, for sure, he could be one of the guys to stop me (from winning)," he joked. "But there are a lot of contenders on the start list, and it’s not easy to win races."

As for the rest of the American team, the Beaver Creek downhill proved to be a challenge. Bryce Bennett and Travis Ganong slid into point range, finishing 26th and 27th, while Sam Morse was pushed just outside in 31st. Erik Arvidsson finished 34th overall, followed by Jared Goldberg in 40th. Team veteran Steven Nyman did not finish.

The Americans have one more shot in tomorrow’s super-G to make a statement in North America before heading back over the Atlantic for a long stretch of racing in Europe. Tune in live on Outside Watch at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 3 to see the world's best speed racers go head-to-head in the Beaver Creek super-G. Get all the streaming details here.

2022 Birds of Prey Downhill: Top 10 Finishers

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