River Radamus will take to the race hill for Friday’s world championship giant slalom, determined to focus and execute, inevitably with thoughts of, and perhaps inspiration, from Ted Ligety.
Radamus was immensely looking forward to sharing what would have certainly been an emotional occasion, celebrating Ligety’s send-off race in Cortina. Unfortunately, that wish ended when the retiring 17-year U.S. Ski Team veteran woke up with aggravated back pain last week, forced to end his brilliant career one race short.
“The whole team is crushed that Ted is not going to be here, most of all Ted,” Radamus said. “I think he was excited to put on a vintage performance and leave it all out on the course. We have to carry on for Ted, obviously.”
Radamus, the lone American starter in Friday’s GS, is making his world championship debut this week and is eager to elevate his game in GS. He’s the last man standing, with Ligety, Tommy Ford and Ryan Cochran-Siegle all taken out by injury.
“It’s an event that I’ve been looking forward to for a long time and I feel like this season I’ve been building in the right direction consistently and starting to find my feel on the World Cup,” Radamus said. “I feel like I’m more primed than ever to execute.”
The Edwards, Colorado ski racer kicks off bib 26th on Labirinti, an unfamiliar course that will challenge the world’s premier GS racers for the first time.
“None of us have ever skied this hill before,” Radamus says. “It looks like it has a pretty steep pitch on the top, and then obviously it’s going to be fast and pretty flat down bottom.”
Labirinti runs approximately 1,320 meters, with a maximum gradient of 55% with an average of 34%.
“Gotta be ready for everything, and I know if I’m fearless and I just stick it in there, I’ll have a good result.”
Temperatures are expected to rise in sun-splashed Cortina heading into the final weekend of competition. With a projected high of 7 degrees Celsius (45 Fahrenheit) on Friday, it seems probable that racers will encounter soft, potentially deteriorating conditions, for the afternoon run.
“I go by the thinking that everybody has got to deal with it,” Radamus says. “I’m going to approach it appropriately for the snow and try to execute that way.
“They’ve prepped the hill as best as they absolutely can, and the terrain is world class,” he adds. “I look forward to sending it.”
Radamus commanded significant attention winning three gold medals at the 2016 Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer. Three years later, he added a pair of golds at the Junior World Championships in Val di Fassa, demonstrating his knack to deliver when it counts the most.
“I pride myself as a big event skier – when the lights are brightest I like to up my game and elevate,” Radamus says. “I really want to put on my best performance and I feel like I have nothing to lose. I come in with the mentality of all or nothing, so why not send one.”
Perhaps the highly confident rising talent will even receive a word or two of inspiration from Mr. GS – who rose to the occasion to win five world titles – prior to Friday’s race.
“I check in with Ted from time to time. I wish he was here,” Radamus said.
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