Aspen’s Bridger Gile looks back on Year 2 with US ski team, first World Cup starts
Gile was renominated to the U.S. men’s B team for 2021-22
For many reasons, this past winter provided the perfect opportunity for Bridger Gile to get his skis onto World Cup snow for the first time. The Aspen native used what many might consider to be a throwaway season because of the pandemic to learn what it’s like to be on the sport’s biggest stage.
“This year was actually a really good year to try the World Cup out, because I wasn’t missing anything by not racing the lower-level races,” Gile said earlier this spring. “So it was a really good year to go and experience that. It was definitely hard. Being top-30 in the world in anything is probably pretty hard. It was good to see that firsthand, see what it takes.”
Gile recently completed his second season on the U.S. alpine ski team and was given the go-ahead for his third, meaning more World Cup starts are likely in his future.
Earlier this month, Gile was again nominated for the men’s national B team, one of 11 rising skiers to get the honor, a list that includes Vail’s River Radamus and Utah veteran Jared Goldberg. Among the skiers left off the list for next season was Glenwood Springs native Cooper Cornelius.
The men’s A team nominations include Bryce Bennett, Ryan Cochran-Siegle, Tommy Ford, Travis Ganong and Steven Nyman.
The 21-year-old Gile started his first World Cup race this past season in an Oct. 18 giant slalom in the season-opener in Soelden, Austria. He completed his first run, but not fast enough to earn a second run. He ultimately started nine World Cup giant slaloms this season, all with similar results. He also competed in a parallel event back in November, finishing 50th.
While the World Cup results weren’t quite there, the experience was what really mattered for Gile. Most importantly, he feels like he improved over this past year and should be in position to push for better results next season, which includes a run at possibly making the U.S. Olympic team.
“It was a pretty weird year. Hard to travel places, a lot of restrictions everywhere we went,” Gile said. “I definitely improved from last year. In training I think I was skiing really fast. It was just a little hard to put it together in races this year.”
Gile did have plenty of good results outside of World Cups. He won a giant slalom at the Italian national championships in early March — along with another runner-up finish the next day — and finished third at the U.S. national championships back in April at Aspen Highlands.
He had three podiums in his return to his home venue that week, including finishing runner-up in a FIS combined race and third in a FIS downhill. Gile, who dabbles in both speed and tech races, certainly enjoyed getting to finish the season at home.
“That was awesome,” Gile said. “Long, tough, different, weird season over in Europe. We were all pretty tired, so coming home and being able to sleep in my own bed in a town that I know was amazing. Then to get up and be able to race on that hill I grew up skiing on, there is not a better way to end a season.”
The 2021-22 winter ski season is more or less underway for the American athletes. The skiers, including Gile, have been taking advantage of any lingering snow at places like Mammoth Mountain in California and will continue to do so over the coming weeks.
Gile said he was happy with his skiing last season and feels like he is close to pushing for top-30 positions in World Cup races. Those are the kind of results he’ll likely need to find himself on the U.S. Olympic team ahead of the 2022 Games in China.
“Next year I’ll get the opportunities to be able to try and qualify,” Gile said of the Olympics. “Going into last year, I wasn’t thinking about that at all. But racing on the World Cup and just seeing, ‘Yeah, maybe I can actually do that,’ I feel like I’m in position to go to the Olympics. I just need to ski fast.”
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