Olympic Silver Medalist Ryan Cochran-Siegle Charges Forward, Continuing To Honor Family Legacy
by Brian Pinelli
Ryan Cochran-Siegle competes in the men's giant slalom during the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup on Oct. 23, 2022 in Soelden, Austria.
Ryan Cochran-Siegle joined his mother Barbara Ann as an Olympic medalist with his inspiring super-G performance last winter at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, a race in which he was just 0.04 of a second from gold.
Cochran-Siegle rekindled some of the glory that his mother experienced having won slalom gold fifty-years prior at the Olympic Winter Games Sapporo 1972. The 30-year-old Vermont ski racer continues to proudly contribute to the “Skiing Cochrans” family legacy. In the 1960s and 1970s, the nickname gained notoriety as Barbara Ann and her three siblings were ski racing at the highest level.
Ryan became the sixth Olympic alpine skier among his distinguished family, when he raced in four events at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.
Having finished 10th in both the downhill and super-G world cup standings last season, Cochran-Siegle is driven and optimistic for the next chapter of his racing career.
“Every year, I feel like I’ve had different successes that I’ve been able to build on – the year prior was winning the Bormio super-G, and last year obviously the Olympic medal was pretty insane, like a childhood dream come true,” Cochran-Siegle tells Team USA.
“I appreciate that moment, but if I want to get better as a ski racer, I can’t hold on to that and expect that it’s just who I am. I think I have to earn it every day.
“I’m trying to stay hungry and at the top of my game because I know there are a bunch of skiers who would love to be in my place. I have to protect where I am based upon my skiing.”
Cochran-Siegle’s medal-winning showing in China was all that much more impressive considering that he was mounting a comeback from a fractured neck, suffered in a scary crash in Kitzbuehel, Austria, just 13 months prior.
Perhaps surprisingly, Cochran-Siegle informs that his and his mother’s Olympic medals have yet to be on display together at the family’s Cochran’s Ski Area near home in Richmond, Vermont.
“Actually, I don’t think our medals have met yet – the week I came home (from Beijing) there were a lot of celebrations and I had it with me as much as possible, so young kids could experience what it’s like to hold an Olympic medal,” he says.
“I’m sure we’ll get a photo of us together (with the medals) at some point, but it hasn’t happened yet.”
Ryan Cochran-Siegle poses with his silver medal during the men's super-G medal ceremony of the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on Feb. 08, 2022 in Yanqing, China.
While Cochran-Siegle is undoubtedly focused on his day job as a ski racer over the coming months, he also serves duty on the Board of Directors at his family’s non-profit Cochran’s Ski Area. Ryan’s cousin, Jimmy, is the general manager at the community landmark, which has a rich history of producing ski racers since its opening in 1961.
The Vermont ski racer emphasizes that the core values that have made Cochran’s an exemplary skiing haven, both for racing and just pure enjoyment of the sport, still stand strong. He says that providing for, teaching and potentially inspiring young skiers and racers, remains a top priority.
“When I was ski club kid, 12, 13, 14 years old, I always looked up to my older cousins Jess and Jimmy on the national team and saw that the path to the world cup was a possibility,” Cochran-Siegle says. “Now, it’s cool to come back and show all those kids it’s good to dream big and set big goals because you never know what you can accomplish.”
As part of that mission to help and inspire young skiers, Cochan-Siegle reveals that there are ambitious plans for expansion of the modest ski area, which offers a rope tow and T-Bar, but no chairlift. There is ample snowmaking capability and the vertical drop of the hill is roughly 300 feet. Weekend lift ticket prices last season were only $19.00 for adults and $14.00 for children.
“We’ve had a lot of community support over the past few years, with increase of visits and people involved with skiing,” Cochran-Siegle says.
“My older cousin Jimmy is putting a few new projects in place – increasing the length of the rope tow, trying to add quality training, and we’re focusing on trying to build a GS trail down the road, which is a really big project still in the early stages.”
The Rossignol Stratos 102 skis that Ryan’s mother Barbara raced to gold in 1972 hang from the rafters at the base lodge at Cochran’s, among numerous race bibs, photos and memorabilia from the family’s decades of achievements in the sport. Ryan has yet to retire his Olympic race skis to the extensive collection.
Barbara, who taught her son how to ski, said she noticed something special in Ryan’s skiing when he was just two years old.
“He was always really gung-ho with skiing,” she told the New England Ski Journal in an interview. “He just had such a natural feel for it. I might be exaggerating a bit, but the first time he raced a real race — not a lollipop race — I think he was 4. Ryan was so excited about racing and it was surprising how well he did.”
Now a veteran racer with the U.S. Ski Team for more than a decade, other top results including a December 2020 super-G victory in Bormio, Italy, and runner-up finish in the classic Val Gardena downhill, Cochran-Siegle’s accomplishments are no longer all that surprising.
Ryan Cochran-Siegle competes in the men's super-G during the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup on Nov. 27, 2022 in Lake Louise, Canada.
Cochran-Siegle kicked off the speed events season on Saturday with a ninth-place finish at the opening world cup downhill in Lake Louise, Canada. He was the top American finisher, crossing the line 1.12 seconds behind race winner Aleksander Aamodt Kilde from Noway.
After relinquishing time on the upper part of the 1.9-mile course, Cochran-Siegle gained tenths on the 69-competitor field, clocking the third-fastest time over the fifth of six sectors.
The ninth-place showing was Cochran-Siegle’s career-best finish on the Canadian Rockies downhill course, which may no longer be on the schedule moving forward.
Cochran-Siegle’s teammate Travis Ganong finished 13th. He was the only other U.S. skier to finish in the top 30 points.
With the Lake Louise races in the books, the tour moves to Beaver Creek, Colorado, Dec. 2-4, for a super-G and double downhills on the unforgiving “Birds of Prey” track.
Cochran-Siegle has finished respectable sixths, each of the last two times downhill races have been contested on the American course.
“I have to ski a little bit more dynamically down the pitch and carry the speed a little bit better,” he says, about conquering the “Birds of Prey” slope.
“I’m just trying to put forth my best skiing every race day, try to be consistent and confident,” Cochran-Siegle says, on expectations this season.
“At the end of the season, if I feel like I was able to achieve fast skiing and be competitive most races, while having fun doing it, then that will be a success,” he said.
One thing is guaranteed – the “Skiing Cochrans” will be urging on Ryan each and every race.
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