On day two of the U.S. Alpine Championships at Aspen Highlands, it was an international giant slalom podium, with Denver University’s Tobias Kogler (Austria) in first, University of Utah’s Joachim Bakken Lien (Norway) in second, and U.S. Alpine Ski Team athlete Bridger Gile in third.
It was another early morning for the athletes, staff, and race organizers, and the conditions were challenging, according to a U.S. Ski Team report. Though the temperatures were cooler than on Monday, the wind caused a problem and took the moisture out of the snow, causing issues for the salt to do its job and firm up the surface.
Giant slalom favorite River Radamus ran into trouble on the first run, getting bounced by the terrain and ending up in 16th after the first run. Gile had the fastest first run, followed by Kogler .47 seconds back, and Middlebury College’s Erik Arvidsson, .54 off Gile’s pace. With softer snow and a groove forming during the second run, athletes were challenged to push on the surface and get power out of the turn.
It was a tight race for the podium, with Kogler taking the victory, Bakken Lien in second by a mere eight one-hundredths of a second, and Gile in third, .19 seconds off Kogler.
The University of Denver senior had a strong season in the U.S. In addition to his second-place GS finish at NCAA championships and GS win in the RMISA collegiate circuit, Kogler also captured back-to-back giant slalom victories at the university races held in Park City earlier this year. The national championship in Aspen was Kogler’s seventh GS win of the season.
“I had a good GS season in the U.S.,” said Kogler. “My setup worked great and my skiing was solid. The conditions were pretty good for how warm the temperatures were. Aspen did a great job.”
Kogler is going out on a high note with this being his final race of the season. He’ll be focused on finishing his degree at DU this spring.
Isaiah Nelson, who was the fastest junior on the day, moved up from sixth to land in fourth, tied with the University of New Hampshire’s Patrick Kenney, .47 seconds off Kogler’s pace. Arvidsson moved back to sixth.
Gile, who is just off a long winter in Europe with his first full FIS Ski World Cup schedule, was the fastest American. Though the conditions were challenging, Gile is thankful to be at home in Aspen and for the ability to sleep in his own bed.
“The course was pretty long…I’d say I’m pretty beat from the season in general, at least it’s warm weather, so that’s nice and makes it easier to be outside,” Gile said. “But, it makes the snow softer…they did their best to keep it as hard as they could, but it’s pretty hot out—and I think that makes the course more tiring as well. It’s fun to ski. First run was good…last run I struggled with having fast first runs, so at least this year I had fast first runs. I think I need to work on my fitness because second run I crashed and I couldn’t go any faster…It’s a good way to end the season knowing you need to get stronger because you work out harder in the summer.
“It’s amazing to ski in my own bed,” he added. “Honestly, skiing and racing while sleeping in my own bed feels weird…I feel uncomfortable not sleeping in a hotel room before a race. I know the town, I know good places to eat, and so it just makes coming home after a long season and a long race today…to be able to chill out in your own house is awesome.” Gile will ski in the alpine combined and the downhill.
The three fastest juniors for the day were Nelson, followed by Oliver Morgan and Jack Smith.
Up next for the men is alpine combined on Wednesday, headlined by U.S. Alpine Ski Team athletes Jared Goldberg, River Radamus, Isaiah Nelson, among others.
Men’s giant slalom
2021 U.S. Alpine Championships at Aspen – Event Schedule
Wednesday, April 7, Super-G/Alpine Combined National Championships, Men
Friday, April 9, Downhill Training, Men/Women
Saturday, April 10, Downhill Training, Men/Women
Sunday, April 11, Downhill National Championships, Men/Women
Tuesday, April 13, Super-G/Alpine Combined National Championships, Women
Thursday, April 15, Giant Slalom National Championships, Women
Friday, April 16, Slalom National Championships, Women
Megan Harrod of U.S. Ski & Snowboard press office contributed to this report.