Vail’s Radamus wins junior worlds super-G as Shiffrin offers congrats
VAIL — Mikaela Shiffrin isn’t the only Vail local bringing home gold medals from Europe this month.
River Radamus, the 21-year-old skier from Edwards, claimed the title of FIS Junior Alpine World Ski Championships super-G champion on Thursday morning in Val di Fassa, Italy.
In a news conference shortly after the race, fellow teammate Mikaela Shiffrin offered her congratulations and reminisced on her own experience on the junior podium, a third-place finish in slalom in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, in 2011.
“World juniors is a really important milestone. I remember racing world juniors; that was the reason I was able to get my first World Cup start,” Shiffrin said. “It’s a huge step in their careers and a telling sign that having success at world juniors often leads to being able to have success in the World Cup.”
Shiffrin also noted that “seeing River winning the world juniors super-G is awesome, because I think everybody sees him as a real up-and-comer, a threat on the World Cup circuit in the future.”
As for the future, that’s what Shiffrin says the world juniors is all about.
“I think one of the big goals for the ski team is developing the next generation,” Shiffrin said. “So that we have depth on our team and that there’s more than one person holding that torch. That’s been a really big focus and I think River’s success at world juniors is a sign that it is working and we just have to stay on course.”
Home away from home?
River Radamus, a three-time Youth Olympic Games gold medalist and two-time FIS Junior Alpine World Ski Championships silver-medalist, brought home his first junior worlds gold medal in Val di Fassa, Italy, on Thursday under the sunshine, surrounded by the mighty Dolomites at the newly developed speed venue at Passo San Pellegrino called La Volata.
The Dolomites seem to be good luck for Radamus, who scored his first World Cup points in just his fifth giant slalom World Cup start at Alta Badia, Italy, in December. Despite the fact that his focus has been primarily on the tech events of slalom and giant slalom this winter, Radamus was able to find the fast line and focus he needed to take the super-G victory.
To help him find that focus, coach Pete Anderson encouraged Radamus to pick an alternate channel on the radio to hear as little information about the course before he pushed out of the start gate as possible. The “less is more” strategy worked out for Radamus, who bested Norway’s Lucas Braathen by 0.34 seconds and France’s Florian Loriot by 0.48 seconds.
“World juniors is an important benchmarking event for us, both for individual athletes on the way to the World Cup and to show our depth as a nation,” said U.S. Ski & Snowboard Alpine development director Chip Knight. “River’s win today was exciting because he’s been in the hunt at the event the last two years, but he hadn’t won yet, so this result highlights his progression as an athlete. It’s also encouraging for our program from top to bottom because River has worked closely with staff and teammates at the World Cup, Europa Cup and NorAm levels this year. It takes a team to push athletes to the top.”
A lack of speed training and a nagging head cold wouldn’t stop Radamus from finally finding the top of the junior world championships podium, after grabbing a silver in 2017 in alpine combined and a silver — sharing the podium with teammate Luke Winters, of Oregon, in 2018 — in super-G. Radamus, who was eighth in Wednesday’s downhill — led by teammate Kyle Negomir, who also has Ski & Snowboard Club Vail ties, sixth — had only skied five other super-G races before Thursday, while his first downhill was this week.
Knight mentioned Radamus was in line for a potential top five or even a top three downhill result Tuesday, but made an error before the finish and lost time. Radamus’ mother, Sara Radamus, is in Val di Fassa, Italy, coaching an athlete from Puerto Rico, so she was able to watch her son win gold.
“Today meant a lot to me. I’ve had silvers at the last two world juniors, and I was pretty sick of finishing runner-up, to be honest,” River Radamus said. “When I sat down and made my goals last summer, I had ‘Gold at World Juniors’ at the top of the list. When I was in the gym training or exhausted from skiing, this race is what I’d think about to keep going. My motto all summer was ‘remember why’. This race right here was my why.”
Radamus is quick to give credit where credit is due: his team. “I couldn’t have done this without my team,” he said. “We’ve been pushing each other’s limits all summer and winter. The last few weeks we’ve been really locked in. Training with a common mission, and supporting each other as we pursued it. I was the one who got to take the top step today, but every one of them helped me get here.”
Up next at junior world championships is the team event Friday as well as women’s super-G.
Primoz Roglic must find a way to stop his Slovenian rival Tadej Pogacar from winning the Tour de France for the third straight time. Pogacar is the firm favorite to win the three-week race, which starts in Denmark on Friday.
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