Cochran-Siegle Top Finish In Olympic Downhill
After experiencing race delays due to wind on Sunday, the U.S. men walked away from Monday’s downhill at the Yanginq National Alpine Ski Center with three top 20 finishes. Ryan Cochran-Siegle led the way in 14th, followed by Bryce Bennett in 19th and Travis Ganong in 20th.
The course, known as “The Rock,” is one of the shorter downhills in Olympic history, with a highly reactive and aggressive surface that skied fast, loading skiers up and providing for some thrilling turns, near-miss crashes, and big saves from the men’s downhill field.
A brief course hold provided some intel from the first man down (Austria’s Vincent Kriechmayr), and Bryce Bennett, who was third out of the gate, saw an opportunity to push the limit of his line and took it. Since winning his first World Cup in Val Gardena, Italy, this season, Bennett has often said he is no longer interested in top 10 finishes. It’s a podium or nothing, and at the Olympics, Bennett was going for gold.
Bennett hit top speeds at 85.1 mph but took an overly aggressive on his line, causing the ski to “load up weird” on a crucial turn and for Bennett to be thrown off his line. Any heat Bennett was packing on track for a top spot was lost. Despite the mistake, he said he wouldn’t change a thing.
“It was on the limit the entire time,” Bennett reported to NBC, semi-speechless after an exhilarating run. “In this sport… it’s difficult for all the pieces to align, especially on an Olympic day. And to be honest, I think I had most of them in line, but... I don’t have words for what happened; it just happened.”
Top U.S. finisher Cochran-Siegle took a slightly different approach to the course, skiing down in bib 16. A bit more conservative on his line, Cochran-Siegle finished strong but did not see the results he wanted.
“You know, I was trying to be relaxed and just go with the flow, and I think maybe it was a touch too passive up top,” reflected Cochran-Siegle. “It was definitely a little bumpier than the training run and I think I just needed to adapt better than I did, I didn’t really carry momentum through that section. You gotta be dialed every single turn here and really carry your speed through. I’d call it okay skiing, nothing special.”
Ganong shared similar sentiments.
"I'm pretty conservative with the way I ski. Sometimes it works out and I'm really really fastest. Today, it was the Olympic downhill, I knew that I had to take some risks. And it's an easy track, so if you ski conservative and try and ski perfect it's not going to be a medal-worthy run. With that in mind, I pushed harder than I normally pushed, and I tried, and that's all you can do. The first two splits were really really competitive and then I had a couple of mistakes which took me out of it."
Switzerland's Beat Fuez took the gold, beating out silver medalist, Johan Clarey by one-tenth of a second. Clarey's medalist made him the oldest man to medal at a Winter Olympic Games, at the age of 41. Two-time Olympic downhill gold medalist, Mattias Mayer, took bronze.
On Tuesday, the men's focus shifts to the super-G, their next opportunity to medal at the Winter Olympic Games Beijing 2022.
HOW TO WATCH
*All times EST
Monday, Feb. 7, 2022
8:00 p.m. Primetime Freestyle Skiing Women's Big Air, Alpine Skiing Men's Super G, NBC Broadcast
10:00 p.m. Alpine Skiing – Men's Super G, National Alpine Skiing Center, Yanqing District, Beijing, CHN, NBCOlympics.com, Streaming Peacock
Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022
2:00 a.m. West Coast Encore – Women’s Big Air Final, Men’s super G & more, NBC Broadcast
8:00 p.m. Primetime Broadcast – Snowboarding Women’s Halfpipe, Alpine Women’s Slalom, Freestyle Mewn’s Big Air, NBC Broadcast
9:15 p.m. Alpine Skiing – Women’s Slalom Run 1, National Alpine Skiing Center, Yanqing District, Beijing, CHN, NBCOlympics.com, Streaming Peacock
Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022
12:45 a.m. Alpine – Alpine Skiing – Women’s Slalom Run 2, National Alpine Skiing Center, Yanqing District, Beijing, CHN, NBCOlympics.com, Streaming Peacock
2:00 a.m. Primetime – Snowboarding Women’s Halfpipe Qualifying, Alpine Skiing Women’s Slalom, Freestyle Men’s Big Air (re-air), NBC Broadcast
5:00 a.m. Primetime – Snowboarding Women’s Halfpipe Qualifying, Alpine Skiing Women’s Slalom, Freestyle Men’s Big Air (re-air), NBC Broadcast
2:00 p.m. Daytime – Alpine Skiing Women’s Slalom, Nordic Combined Men’s Normal Hill & 10km, Snowboarding Women’s Snowboardcross Final, NBC Broadcast
9:30 p.m. Alpine Skiing – Men’s Combined Downhill, National Alpine Skiing Center, Yanqing District, Beijing, CHN, NBCOlympics.com, Streaming Peacock
Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022
1:05 a.m. Primetime Plus – Alpine Skiing – Men’s Alpine Combined Slalom, NBC Broadcast
1:15 a.m. Alpine Skiing, Men’s Combined Slalom, National Alpine Skiing Center, Yanqing District, Beijing, CHN, NBCOlympics.com, Streaming Peacock
8:00 p.m. Primetime – Alpine Skiing Women’s Super G (Live), Snowboarding Men’s Halfpipe Final (Live), Freestyle Mixed Team Aerials Final, NBC Broadcast
10:00 p.m. Alpine Skiing – Women’s Super G, National Alpine Skiing Center, Yanqing District, Beijing, CHN, Streaming Peacock, NBCOlympics.com