As results shook out on the last day of NorAm Finals racing at Nakiska and Canada Olympic Park on Sunday (March 16), overall title winners Maddy Irwin of the Canadian Ski Team and Ryan Cochran-Siegle of the U.S. Ski Team were able to formally claim their prizes and look forward to guaranteed World Cup starts in every discipline during the 2014-15 season.
Irwin, who overcame a back problem this year which sidelined her for the entire 2012-13 winter, was on a comeback tear through the NorAm circuit, amassing 949 points to her closest rival’s 726, collected by the U.S. Ski Team’s Katie Ryan.
“It’s a big weight off my shoulders. I’ve just been trying to keep it together,” said Irwin. “I was juggling two goals this year – obviously, trying to make the Olympics, which didn’t happen, and then the NorAm title. In every NorAm race I was concerned to make sure I finished consistently.”
Consistency also paid off for the U.S. Ski Team’s Cochran-Siegle, who managed to claim the overall without winning any of the discipline titles. Sure and steady, he stayed the course, finishing as runner-up to teammate Bryce Bennett in the downhill standings and third in the GS and SG rankings. Cochran-Siegle also overcame injury this season after tearing his ACL and MCL in the super combined at last year’s World Championships in Schladming, Austria. Cochran-Siegle finished as runner-up in the NorAm overall standings in 2012, but this is his first time claiming the title.
In the final discipline standings that had yet to be determined until the last races of the winter, Canadian development team athlete Candace Crawford won the GS title. She was followed by Norwegian Chloe Fausa from the University of Utah, but the next North American in the rankings, Ski Quebec Alpin’s Eve Routhier in third, is offered the World Cup start position for next season as per Continental Cup rules.
“I’m very excited. I can’t quite believe it,” remarked Crawford, who won the next-to-last giant slalom of the season and posted a solid second run time in the final race as well. “I made a big mistake in my first run but the second run was better. I’m thrilled.”
Crawford is the niece of Judy Crawford, a top level racer in the late 1960s and early 1970s who finished fourth in the slalom at the 1972 Olympics in Sapporo, Japan, the same race that was won by Ryan Cochran-Siegle’s mother, Barbara Ann Cochran.
For the men’s slalom title, American Colby Granstrom had already guaranteed himself a spot in the top two before the last race, but he solidified the title without even having to finish since nearest rival Will Brandenburg also skied out. Granstrom took the title with 422 points to Brandenburg’s 341, and both will have more opportunities on the World Cup circuit next season.