Isaiah Nelson opened the FIS Alpine World Junior Ski Championships in Bansko, Bulgaria with a top-10 super G finish. He paved the way for his teammates to crack the top 25, with Cooper Puckett fastest of the U18 group.

Nelson returns to world juniors hoping to build off momentum from the season and his previous 13th-place finish at this event. It was a beautiful opening day in Bansko. Clear skis and hard snow created fast conditions for the men to power the ski and build speed throughout the course. 

Wearing Bib 7, Nelson was quickest out the gate and led the top split. He had troubles staying on line and finding a clean ski in the middle of the course but was able to carry momentum through the finish, ultimately landing in ninth. Although not the result he was hoping for, Nelson says he’s ready to charge in the GS on Thursday. 

“I was definitely a little bummed,” said Nelson. “I thought I left some time out there today. There were a couple of turns where I was just backing off and couldn’t find a clean ski. That one mistake cost a little time, but overall it was a good step for me in super G. I haven’t done a lot of super G, haven’t trained a lot of super G. It wasn’t bad, but, for me, I just need to keep things a little simpler in my head and just charge.” 

Behind Nelson were teammates Bradshaw Underhill and the youngest of the U.S. world juniors team, Puckett, who was 24th overall and led the U18 group by 0.03 seconds. 

Top finishers were Giovanni Franznoi from Italy, Lukas Feurstein from Austria, and Gael Zulauf from Switzerland. The U.S. tech skier Ben Ritchie remained focused on slalom and did not compete.

The men return to the same hill tomorrow with a lower hill start position for giant slalom. Live streaming can be watched at https://bansko2021.ski/live.

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