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Cochran-Siegle Leads Four Americans Into Xfinity Birds of Prey Downhill Top 30

By Mackenzie Moran
December, 4 2021

Thousands of fans turned out to the first Xfinity Birds of Prey downhill on Saturday in Beaver Creek, Colo., to cheer for the men taking on the demanding track. Second out of the start was USA's very own Ryan Cochran-Siegle, who put forward a solid run that allowed him to hang on to a top 10 position by the end of the day. Cochran-Siegle finished sixth overall, leading four American men into the top 30, while Norway's Aleksander Aamodt Kilde stole the top spot for the second day in a row, followed by Austria's Matthias Mayer, and Switzerland's Beat Feuz.

Despite a solid finish, Cochran-Siegle is still on the hunt for both his results and training to be on par with his performance prior to fracturing his cervical spine (C7) on the Hannenkahm last season. He knows there's more speed left for him to find on the pitch.

"I’m definitely more of a confident skier when I have results behind me and I feel like I can let loose a little bit, so overcoming that is a challenge," reflected Cochran-Siegle. "(On the World Cup) we all ski at a high level, it’s just about who can maximize from top to bottom. I definitely have some time still to be found on the pitch and that’s what I’ll be looking for tomorrow."

Team veteran Steven Nyman made an incredible push forward from the back of the pack in bib 36 to tie France's Johan Clarey in 18th. Nyman, who missed most of the 20/21 season due to injury, has been struggling to meet his own expectations for far this season. Saturday morning in Beaver Creek, a surprise visit from an old friend may have helped fuel him forward.

Thomas Walsh, a U.S. Paralympic alpine ski racer (and close childhood friend of Mikaela Shiffrin as well), was inspired by Nyman as a kid to continue his pursuit of an Olympic dream after overcoming his battle with cancer. It was an emotional scene at inspection Saturday morning, as Walsh displayed the 2006 Olympic bib from Torino that Nyman signed for Walsh 15 years ago during a hospital visit. To show his gratitude, Walsh gifted Nyman his own bib from his Paralympic competitions to say thanks, and good luck.

"I just broke down crying after inspection," said Nyman. "It's incredibly meaningful. That's what it's all about. He's gonna be a lifelong friend, and it's gonna be cool to see him continue to push for the top and perform."

Bryce Bennett and Travis Ganong also laid down solid runs, holding on to top-30 finishes in 22nd and 24th respectively. Jared Goldberg finished 36th, and Erik Arvidsson finished 38th.

Looking ahead to the rest of the season, the American men know there is still work to be done in speed. Ganong's super-G podium on Friday showed promise, but with Bennett and Nyman still working out the kinks in their set-up, and Cochran-Siegle searching for his rhythm, the downhill men are hungry for one more show on home soil on Sunday.

"Besides Travis’ podium we're a little bit off the pace in downhill," commented Bennett. "I think Travis is one of the best skiers on the world cup, to be honest, and I think he could do it every weekend. I just think sometimes he doubts himself, and I wish he wouldn’t because he’s an incredible skier." 

"Our team can be really strong if we all figure out our skiing," Cochran-Siegle. "Look at Travis, he’s figuring it out, and Bryce, Steven, Jared, all those guys... it will get there, step by step."

On Sunday, Dec. 4 the men have yet another shot at the Bird's of Prey course, in the final North American downhill before they head into the European leg of the season.

Men's Downhill

*All times EST.

Saturday, Dec. 4
5:00 p.m. FIS Alpine World Cup Xfinity Birds of Prey Men's Downhill - Same-day broadcast, Beaver Creek, CO, Broadcast NBC

Sunday, Dec. 5
12:30 p.m. FIS Alpine World Cup Women's Super-G - LIVE Lake Louise, CAN, Streaming Peacock
2:00 p.m. FIS Alpine World Cup Xfinity Birds of Prey Men's Downhill - LIVE, Beaver Creek, CO, Streaming Peacock
2:30 p.m. FIS Alpine World Cup Women’s Super G - LIVE, Lake Louise, CAN, Ski and Snowboard Live
2:30 p.m. FIS Alpine World Cup Xfinity Birds of Prey Men's Downhill - Same-day broadcast, Beaver Creek, CO, Broadcast, NBCSN
4:00 p.m. FIS Alpine World Cup Xfinity Birds of Prey Men's Downhill - Same-day broadcast, Beaver Creek, CO, Broadcast NBC

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