Aspen local Bridger Gile top American, takes third in GS at U.S. ski nationals
Aspen local Bridger Gile bounced back from a tough start at the U.S. Alpine Championships by finding his way onto the podium Tuesday in the men’s giant slalom at Aspen Highlands.
The 21-year-old, who is a member of the U.S. B team, led after the first run on a day when conditions were again less than ideal. Warm, spring weather again wreaked havoc, this time with gusty, snow-drying winds added into the mix.
“The course was pretty long … I’d say I’m pretty beat from the season in general. At least it’s warm weather, so that’s nice and makes it easier to be outside,” Gile said. “But, it makes the snow softer … they did their best to keep it as hard as they could, but it’s pretty hot out — and I think that makes the course more tiring, as well.”
Gile was third to lead the American skiers on Tuesday with a two-run combined time of 2 minutes, 32.62 seconds. His first-run time of 1:14.05 was the leader in the clubhouse, but he slipped down the podium with a second-run time of 1:18.57, which was 10th best.
Taking the win was Austria’s Tobias Kogler, who skis for the University of Denver. His time of 2:32.43 held off runner-up Joachim Bakken Lien of Norway — he’s a University of Utah athlete — by 0.08 and Gile by 0.19 in a competitive race.
“COVID kind of prevented me from going over to Austria (for nationals) … and I was stoked that it is here in Aspen,” Kogler said. “We just kept the race rhythm … we did NCAAs, never stopped training, did some FIS races, and then a week ago we got a new coach. He got us all fired up and that was the last bit of energy I needed.”
It was a good showing for Gile, who was among nearly four dozen to not complete Monday’s slalom. Tuesday marked Gile’s first significant podium since he nabbed a first and second in giant slalom at the Italian national championships last month in Pozza di Fassa.
Gile also plans to compete in Wednesday’s combined and Sunday’s downhill.
“I need to work on my fitness because second run I crashed and I couldn’t go any faster,” Gile said. “It’s a good way to end the season knowing you need to get stronger because you work out harder in the summer.”
Finishing in a tie for fourth on Tuesday were the University of New Hampshire’s Patrick Kenney and Minnesota’s Isaiah Nelson, who was the top junior on the day.
“I definitely attacked really hard. … (Monday) night in our meeting we talked about the aggression of that second-run mentality,” the 19-year-old Nelson said. “I was happy to move up and almost get on the overall podium, which would have been super cool.”
Middlebury’s Erik Arvidsson, who took second in Monday’s slalom, was sixth in GS. Vermont’s Ben Ritchie, who won Monday’s slalom, was well back in 23rd place. Vail’s River Radamus, one of the favorites entering Tuesday’s GS, finished 10th.
Finishing 15th was Glenwood Springs product Cooper Cornelius, who grew up racing with the Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club. Like so many, Cornelius did not finish Monday’s slalom.
Wednesday, April 7, Super-G/Alpine Combined National Championships, Men
Friday, April 9, Downhill Training, Men/Women
Saturday, April 10, Downhill Training, Men/Women
Sunday, April 11, Downhill National Championships, Men/Women
Tuesday, April 13, Super-G/Alpine Combined National Championships, Women
Thursday, April 15, Giant Slalom National Championships, Women
Friday, April 16, Slalom National Championships, Women
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Indie folk band Birdtalker is making three Colorado tour stops this weekend starting with Aspen’s Wheeler Opera House on Friday.