10 Athletes of the Year: #1 Ryan Cochran-Siegle – 2021

Each January, Vermont Sports Magazine publishes the profiles of 10 Vermont athletes who have made our state proud in the past year. Even with race schedules cut short, travel curtailed and being isolated from training partners, these athletes pushed through the year of Covid-19 and showed how you can stay motivated, stay fit and stay on top of the game. Here’s our annual salute to 10 athletes Vermont should be proud of.  See a full list of this year’s 10 Athletes of the Year as well as links to previous years’ honorees. 

Ryan Cochran-Siegle’s Wild Ride

On December 30, the ski racing world held its breath as Ryan Cochran-Siegle, a favorite to win that day’s downhill race in Bormio, Italy, hurtled over a jump and landed in the backseat. His butt scraped his skis, a move that can often spell disaster – not to mention a shredded ACL. Commentators estimated that he was going 85 mph.

Somehow, fighting immense G-forces, Cochran-Siegle managed to pull his torso forward, recover, then lost his balance again, wobbling on one ski, arms flailing. Again, he pulled it back together, resumed his tuck and continued hurtling down the mountain as commentators and the crowd gasped.  Incredibly, he still finished seventh. 

“I was happy to survive when I got to the finish and seeing that I was still competitive was cool, but I’m realizing that it could have been a really good day,” Ryan told the media after. Ryan Cochran-Siegle, or RCS as he is often known, was coming off  a string of “really good days.” On downhill training runs on Dec. 26 and 27 he had posted the fastest times.

Then on Dec. 29, he did what no American male has done in 14 years: he won the Super G. Not since Bode Miller won in 2006 had an American taken a Super G. And his 0.79 of a second lead over Austrian Vincent Kriechmayr was the largest margin in the discipline in nearly five years. These races were not flukes, earlier in the month at the Val Gardena, Italy World Cup  he placed second in the downhill.

Ryan’s remarkable recovery was, in some ways, a metaphor for his career. It is hard to believe that the kid from Starksboro whose mother,  1972 Olympic gold medalist Barbara Ann Cochran taught him to ski on the family ski hill in Richmond, is still only 28.

Ryan raced his first World Cup in 2011, won the Junior World Championship in 2012 and then a year later crashed at the same event, tearing his ACL and meniscus, injuries that would sideline him for 18 months, just as he was building up World Cup points. He came back and in 2016 achieved his first top 10 (a 10th in alpine combined.) He has done consistently well but until this year, only made occasional forays back into the top 10.

To kick off the 2020/21 World Cup season with two podiums is a feat no American male ski racer has accomplished in some time.  Ryan Cochran-Siegle is without question carrying on the family legacy by skiing “the Cochran Way.”

See a full list of this year’s 10 Athletes of the Year as well as links to previous years’ honorees. 

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