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Hunting for More than Fools Gold at Birds of Prey, Lake Louise

By Megan Harrod
December, 5 2019
Ryan Cochran-Siegle
Ryan Cochran-Siegle was fastest in Wednesday's downhill training run on the Beaver Creek Birds of Prey course. (Getty Images - Sean M. Haffey)

Attention has shifted from the HomeLight Killington Cup over to speed week at the Xfinity Birds of Prey in Beaver Creek, and the anticipation is high for three days of racing, including Friday’s super-G, Saturday’s downhill, and Sunday’s giant slalom. 

Up in Lake Louise, the women will tackle two downhills and a super-G Friday through Sunday. After successful training runs that saw two Americans - both male and female - with the fastest times on the day Wednesday, the quest will now be to search for more than just “fools gold” and get it done on race day. 

Coming from bib 25, Ryan Cochran-Siegle was able to get a solid and informative course report from his teammates about the terrain on this year’s downhill track. The jumps - including Harrier, Golden Eagle, and Talon - were all flying big this year. So much so, in fact, that the race organizer decided to shave them prior to what would have been the second training run on Thursday. Eventually, snow and fog came in, forcing the organizers to cancel the second and final training run, leaving the guys with just one look going into the weekend. “I know you’re all good with the terrain, and you’re bummed,” said Head Coach Randy Pelkey in the team meeting with a laugh.” It’s true that the American boys like to fly. 

“The terrain does kick in places, a lot...especially with the jumps too - big air, that I wasn’t expecting,” Ryan reflected, “so hearing the course report gave me some time to change my approach and I think that’s why it was fast today. It’s a little bit of fool’s gold, so just trying to focus on the skiing and not focus on anything else.”

Switching your mindset from training day to race day and amping up the intensity is what separates the men from the boys, and that'll be the trick this weekend. It takes a lot of mental fortitude in order to have the ability and confidence to hurl yourself down a mountain at nearly 100mph. When asked what downhill feels like, legend Bode Miller has said, "It's like sticking your head outside when you're driving down the highway." It's true. Imagine that, and now imagine it on a vertical ice rink wearing nothing but a tight suit. The intensity level will go up more than a few notches, and the Europeans will be ready to throw down. The Americans are happy with their start, but they'll be hunting for more than just fool's gold at Birds of Prey. 

“I’m definitely satisfied with my skiing in Lake Louise," said Ryan, who was 21st and 30th in super-G and downhill in Lake Louise, respectively. "You can’t complain when you score twice, but I think you always want more as a ski racer too, so I think taking it as it is and not trying to get overly confident or down on it either. I can trust it right now, and that’s all I need to be doing. The guy's intensities are incredibly high and there are guys that are going to be performing incredibly well on race day, so I think carrying good skiing and trusting that you’ll be able to build speed."

It's been a rough couple of years for the Americans, with injuries across speed and tech, and veteran Steven Nyman - who was ninth in Wednesdays first and only training run - is excited for the squad to dive in to the new season. He'll be bringing his secret weapon - dad strength (he's the father to a 2 1/2-year-old little girl named Nell) - into the weekend. 

“This is the healthiest the team has been in a while. We had a rough couple of years," Steven said after his training run. "I’ve done well here and had three podiums, but I’ve never won here - that’s obviously highly motivating to me. Just being here is motivating - that energy and desire to push for more, that heightened focus, it’s a place where I tend to switch things on. This year was the best I’ve ever done at Lake Louise in 10th, and I hope to switch it on here. It’s a fun hill, I see it, I understand it, it’s just a joy to ski - it’s one of the most well-rounded downhills on tour. It has the steeps, it has the flats, it has the terrain, long flights...especially off of Harrier. I wish they build up Red Tail and that thing’s big.”

On the men's tech side, Olympic champion Ted Ligety and Tommy Ford - who was a career-best fourth place at Soelden, Austria - will lead the charge. Teammate Ryan Cochran-Siegle will start in all three events this weekend at Beaver Creek. George Steffey, who is returning from injury and has been working tirelessly in the gym and on snow to come back, will be starting in his career-first World Cup on Sunday in giant slalom. 

The women will kick off their speed season up in Lake Louise, led by veteran Alice McKennis and 2019 super-G world champion and 2019 super-G titleholder Mikaela Shiffrin. Alice Mckennis and Jackie Wiles will both be returning to competition after gnarly leg injuries had them each sidelined for the entire 2018-19 season. In the first of two training runs on Wednesday, Alice tied for first to lead the charge, with Mikaela on her heels by just .17 seconds back. Lake Louise has been a special venue for Mikaela Shiffrin, who won her career-first downhill on the track in 2017, and followed that up with a career-first super-G win in 2018 - cementing herself in history as the first athlete ever - male or female - to win in all six currently contested FIS Alpine Ski World Cup disciplines. Keep an eye on these ladies as they hunt for the podium. 

Additionally, Alix Wilkinson and Isabella Wright will each start in their first World Cup - in the downhill. Keely Cashman and AJ Hurt each have World Cup tech starts under their belts, but they will be starting in their first World Cup speed events as well. 

See below for all of the details on who and how to watch. 

Tommy Biesemeyer - SG, DH
Bryce Bennett - DH
Ryan Cochran-Siegle - SG, DH, GS
Sam Dupratt - SG
Tommy Ford - SG, GS
Travis Ganong - SG, DH
Jared Goldberg - DH
Ted Ligety - SG, GS
Brian McLaughlin - GS
Sam Morse - DH
Wiley Maple - DH
Kyle Negomir - SG, DH
Steven Nyman - SG, DH
River Radamus - SG, GS
George Steffey* - GS 

Keely Cashman - DH
AJ Hurt - DH, SG
Alice McKennis - DH, SG
Alice Merryweather - DH, SG
Mikaela Shiffrin - DH, SG
Jackie Wiles - DH, SG
Alix Wilkinson* - DH
Isabella Wright* - DH

*Denotes first World Cup start

Run 1

Men's DH Start List

Run 1
Run 2

Women's DH Start List

Check out the Xfinity Birds of Prey Opening Press Conference, brought to you by Land Rover.


Official event hashtags: #bcworldcup, #worldcuplakelouise

All times EST

Friday, Dec. 6
12:30 p.m. - Men’s super-G, Xfinity Birds of Prey, Beaver Creek, Colo. - NBCSN, NBCSN.comNBC Sports Gold
2:30 p.m. - Women’s downhill, Lake Louise, Alberta - Olympic Channel, Olympic, NBC Sports Gold
11:00 p.m. - Women’s downhill, Lake Louise, Alberta - NBCSN*

Saturday, Dec. 7
1:00 p.m. - Men’s downhill, Xfinity Birds of Prey, Beaver Creek, Colo. - Olympic Channel,  Olympic NBC Sports Gold
2:30 p.m. - Women’s downhill, Lake Louise, Alberta - Olympic Channel, Olympic, NBC Sports Gold
11:00 p.m. - Men’s downhill, Xfinity Birds of Prey, Beaver Creek, Colo. - NBCSN*

Sunday, Dec. 8
11:40 a.m. - Men’s giant slalom run 1, Xfinity Birds of Prey, Beaver Creek, Colo. - Olympic Channel, Olympic NBC Sports Gold
1:00 p.m. - Women’s super-G, Lake Louise, Alberta - Olympic Channel, Olympic, NBC Sports Gold
2:30 p.m. - Men’s giant slalom run 2, Xfinity Birds of Prey, Beaver Creek, Colo. - Olympic Channel, Olympic NBC Sports Gold
5:00 p.m. - Men’s giant slalom run, Xfinity Birds of Prey, Beaver Creek, Colo. - NBC
6:00 p.m. - Women’s super-G, Lake Louise, Alberta - NBCSN*

*Same-day broadcast

Note: All televised events to stream across, NBC Sports app,, and Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA app.

Exclusive commercial-free coverage will be available for subscribers of the NBC Sports Gold Pass, available here: