The 2016 World Junior Championships in Sochi, Russia kicked off on Saturday with men’s and women’s downhill action on the slopes of the Rosa Khutor alpine center. Under sunny skies and spring-like conditions, the next generation of American Downhillers managed to make quite an entrance to the world stage.

Erik Arvidsson of the U.S. C Team took the gold medal with a time of 1:11.66 seconds, o.20 seconds ahead of silver medalist Stefan Babinsky of Austria. Frenchman Victor Schuller took the bronze, 0.35 seconds off of Arvidsson’s winning pace.

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The California native becomes the fifth American male to capture World Junior downhill gold, joining Ryan Cochran-Siegle (2012), Chris Beckmann (2006), Adam Cole (2002), and Mike Makar (1992). More history was made as three of Arvidsson’s teammates slotted themselves into the top 10 with Sam Morse finishing in fourth, only 0.12 seconds away from a medal, Florian Szwebel in seventh, and Drew Duffy in 10th.

“I’m really psyched and super proud to lead four Americans into the top 10 here at World Juniors in Sochi,” Arvidsson said of his day. “I can’t remember a recent performance like this from our boys. It was pretty incredible to stand there in the leader’s box for a while with some teammates. It was a pretty incredible day and it felt really good to be a part of such a strong American Downhiller team.”

The softer conditions played right into Arvidsson’s skill set, as he grew up skiing at Bear Valley, California, where softer spring-like snow can be found for much of the winter. Arvidsson credits this, as well as his strategic choice to run with bib one, as the keys to his victory.

U.S. assistant coach Justin Johnson says that a result like Saturday’s is not surprising given the group’s closeness and ability to feed off of each other’s energy.

“This group is powerful together, super strong,” Johnson explained. “They work really hard to create an environment where they feed off each other and pick up on each other’s strengths. It’s not a show. These guys really really love each other. The team power we have is unreal. It’ll just keep getting better and better. It’s a real special group and they help each other in every aspect of sports and life. It makes them super strong.”

Now with the weight of being the future of the American speed team squarely on their shoulders, these boys are more than ready for the challenges ahead.

“We’ve been talking a lot about today being the future American Downhillers and it feels really cool to continue on the legacy of Bill Johnson and Tommy Moe and all the boys now,” Arvidsson added. “We look up to everyone in the gym in the summer — like Steve [Nyman], and obviously Bode is everyone’s hero. And skiing for the Squaw Valley Ski Team, Daron Rahlves is someone I’ve looked up to and spent some time with in Tahoe. It’s a pretty special thing.”

On the women’s side, Canada’s Valerie Grenier walked away with the gold medal with a time of 1:13.95 seconds, a slim 0.07 seconds ahead of silver medalist Beatrice Scalvedi of Switzerland. Italian Nicol Delago snagged the bronze, 0.31 seconds off of Grenier. American Breezy Johnson just missed the podium in fourth, 0.43 seconds off the pace.

“I was surprised when I saw that I was first after I crossed the finish line,” Gernier said. “I am not so confident in downhill. Usually, super-G is my favorite discipline, but it felt like a really good run today. The fact that I had the second fastest downhill training time yesterday gave me additional confidence.”

The men are now scheduled to race super G on Sunday, Feb. 28, with the women’s race scheduled to take place on Monday, Feb. 29.

Cover photo from the U.S. Ski Team


Official Men’s Results

RankBibNameYearNationTotal TimeDiff.FIS Points
 1 1ARVIDSSON Erik1996USA 1:11.66 15.62
 2 6BABINSKY Stefan1996AUT 1:11.86 +0.20 19.11
 3 9SCHULLER Victor1995FRA 1:12.01 +0.35 21.73
 4 2MORSE Sam1996USA 1:12.13 +0.47 23.82
 5 14HADALIN Stefan1995SLO 1:12.14 +0.48 23.99
 6 12MARKEGAARD Tomas1995NOR 1:12.16 +0.50 24.34
 7 16SZWEBEL Florian1996USA 1:12.36 +0.70 27.83
 8 17SIMONET Sandro1995SUI 1:12.37 +0.71 28.00
 9 7HROBAT Miha1995SLO 1:12.38 +0.72 28.18
 10 3DUFFY Drew1995USA 1:12.46 +0.80 29.57
 11 26VERDU SANCHEZ Joan1995AND 1:12.55 +0.89 31.14
 11 21ODERMATT Marco1997SUI 1:12.55 +0.89 31.14
 13 13SEGER Brodie1995CAN 1:12.62 +0.96 32.37
 14 11CRAWFORD James1997CAN 1:12.65 +0.99 32.89
 15 4BAILET Matthieu1996FRA 1:12.75 +1.09 34.63
 16 20HACKER Pirmin1996AUT 1:12.79 +1.13 35.33
 17 34ZEIRINGER Fabian1996AUT 1:12.86 +1.20 36.55
 18 10MONSEN Marcus1995NOR 1:12.89 +1.23 37.08
 19 18KUZNETSOV Ivan1996RUS 1:12.92 +1.26 37.60
 20 5HINTERMANN Niels1995SUI 1:12.93 +1.27 37.77
 21 32SCHIEDER Florian1995ITA 1:12.99 +1.33 38.82
 22 23PAINI Federico1995ITA 1:13.07 +1.41 40.22
 23 22THORSEN Alexander Sannes1996NOR 1:13.22 +1.56 42.83
 24 28RODES Istok1996CRO 1:13.36 +1.70 45.27
 25 24MYAGKOV Fedor1996RUS 1:13.38 +1.72 45.62
 26 25GERACI Hugo1996FRA 1:13.42 +1.76 46.32
 27 61LAHNSTEINER Maximilian1996AUT 1:13.63 +1.97 49.98
 28 29READ Jeffrey1997CAN 1:13.69 +2.03 51.03
 29 19KENNEY Patrick1997USA 1:13.72 +2.06 51.55
 30 27KOHLER Marco1997SUI 1:13.79 +2.13 52.77
 31 43SUNDIN Olle1997SWE 1:13.93 +2.27 55.22
 32 50GUT Ian1995SUI 1:13.96 +2.30 55.74
 33 35GRAF Mathias1996AUT 1:14.00 +2.34 56.44
 33 31PRAST Alexander1996ITA 1:14.00 +2.34 56.44
 35 44MONSEN Zack1997SWE 1:14.01 +2.35 56.61
 36 30DVORNIK Aljaz1995SLO 1:14.10 +2.44 58.18
 37 47EFIMOV Simon1996RUS 1:14.13 +2.47 58.71
 38 42HAUGAN Timon1996NOR 1:14.23 +2.57 60.45
 39 49PLATTER Filip1997SWE 1:14.24 +2.58 60.62
 40 36COURRIEU Kevin1997AND 1:14.44 +2.78 64.11
 41 62MEISEN Bastian1996GER 1:14.52 +2.86 65.51
 42 41GUILLOT Victor1996FRA 1:14.63 +2.97 67.43
 43 38HEGELE Georg1996GER 1:14.66 +3.00 67.95
 44 45FOREJTEK Filip1997CZE 1:14.74 +3.08 69.35
 45 39MARCHANT Armand1997BEL 1:14.80 +3.14 70.39
 46 40SOLSONA Robert1995AND 1:14.93 +3.27 72.66
 47 37KANKKUNEN Sampo1998FIN 1:15.31 +3.65 79.29
 48 54VAN DEN BROECKE Dries1995BEL 1:15.36 +3.70 80.16
 49 46MAJOR Billy1996GBR 1:15.38 +3.72 80.51
 50 60DICK Lukas1996GER 1:15.49 +3.83 82.43
 51 53ZABYSTRAN Jan1998CZE 1:16.01 +4.35 91.50
 52 59HABDAS Piotr1998POL 1:16.10 +4.44 93.07
 53 63ZELLER Yannik1996GER 1:16.12 +4.46 93.42
 54 57GATEAU Elie1995FRA 1:16.18 +4.52 94.46
 55 55SVITKOV Gennadiy1997RUS 1:16.31 +4.65 96.73
 56 51BEBENEK Szymon1998POL 1:16.64 +4.98 102.49
 57 48LUIK Juhan1997EST 1:16.90 +5.24 107.02
 58 52MYTSAK Dmytro1995UKR 1:17.08 +5.42 110.16
 59 56FIGUEROA Andres1996CHI 1:17.22 +5.56 112.61
 60 58DANOV Sergey1997KAZ 1:18.21 +6.55 129.87
Did not finish 1st run
 33VON GRUENIGEN Noel1995SUI
 15LIBERATORE Federico1995ITA
 8NOCKER Clemens1996AUT

Official Women’s Results

RankBibNameYearNationTotal TimeDiff.FIS Points
 1 12GRENIER Valerie1996CAN 1:13.95 14.56
 2 4SCALVEDI Beatrice1995SUI 1:14.02 +0.07 15.74
 3 8DELAGO Nicol1996ITA 1:14.26 +0.31 19.80
 4 7JOHNSON Breezy1996USA 1:14.38 +0.43 21.83
 5 6REISINGER Elisabeth1996AUT 1:14.69 +0.74 27.07
 6 10BESSY Anouk1995FRA 1:14.70 +0.75 27.24
 7 19ORTLIEB Nina1996AUT 1:14.71 +0.76 27.41
 8 5LYSDAHL Kristin Anna1996NOR 1:14.82 +0.87 29.27
 9 15ALPHAND Estelle1995FRA 1:14.86 +0.91 29.94
 9 3WEIDLE Kira1996GER 1:14.86 +0.91 29.94
 11 2PIROVANO Laura1997ITA 1:14.94 +0.99 31.29
 12 11HEIDER Michaela1995AUT 1:14.95 +1.00 31.46
 13 1LARROUY Noemie1995FRA 1:14.97 +1.02 31.80
 14 16SUTER Jasmina1995SUI 1:15.12 +1.17 34.34
 15 9DENGSCHERZ Dajana1996AUT 1:15.18 +1.23 35.35
 16 33FLUETSCH Luana1995SUI 1:15.49 +1.54 40.59
 17 30HOERNBLAD Lisa1996SWE 1:15.55 +1.60 41.61
 17 22GALLI Jole1995ITA 1:15.55 +1.60 41.61
 19 14GAUCHE Laura1995FRA 1:15.63 +1.68 42.96
 20 45FLECKENSTEIN Stefanie1997CAN 1:15.86 +1.91 46.85
 21 25SCHMID Pia1996AUT 1:15.96 +2.01 48.54
 21 13DELAGO Nadia1997ITA 1:15.96 +2.01 48.54
 23 40TIMCHENKO Elizaveta1996RUS 1:16.00 +2.05 49.21
 23 27CAILL Ania Monica1995ROU 1:16.00 +2.05 49.21
 25 28HVAMMEN Guro1997NOR 1:16.29 +2.34 54.11
 26 26ZUERCHER Lara1995SUI 1:16.33 +2.38 54.79
 27 24KOMSIC Andrea1996CRO 1:16.66 +2.71 60.37
 28 21BREZOVNIK Sasa1995SLO 1:16.85 +2.90 63.58
 29 34WARDLE Galena1998USA 1:16.89 +2.94 64.26
 30 44WILLIBALD Elisabeth1996GER 1:17.00 +3.05 66.12
 31 32OVCHINIKOVA Daria1995RUS 1:17.08 +3.13 67.47
 32 35HIRTL-STANGGASSINGER Katrin1998GER 1:17.20 +3.25 69.50
 33 18MANGAN Patricia1997USA 1:17.52 +3.57 74.90
 34 39WASEK Katarzyna1996POL 1:17.56 +3.61 75.58
 35 36KRAJEWSKA Daria1998POL 1:17.99 +4.04 82.85
 36 38AJLEC Desiree1996SLO 1:18.28 +4.33 87.75
 37 20O BRIEN Nina1997USA 1:18.32 +4.37 88.43
 38 41GRIGOROVA Mariya1996KAZ 1:21.46 +7.51 141.50
 39 42KNYSH Olha1995UKR 1:21.75 +7.80 146.41
Did not start 1st run
 43LIENSBERGER Katharina1997AUT
 23LIE Kajsa Vickhoff1998NOR
Did not finish 1st run
 37PLESHKOVA Iulija1997RUS
 31PALLAS Carmina1996AND
 29ZENERE Asja1996ITA
 17MERRYWEATHER Alice1996USA