River Radamus would rather not have the unwanted distinction of placing fourth at global championships. His riveting performance in Tuesday’s Alpine combined — the opening event for the men at the 2023 FIS World Alpine Ski Championship — shouldn’t be diminished simply because it lacked a medal.
“It’s nice, but honestly, you don’t come to world championships hoping to get fourth,” Radamus, who also placed fourth in two events at the 2022 Beijing Olympics, told the Associated Press in Courchevel, France after finishing just 0.25 seconds off the podium.
Courchevel-grown 2021 World Cup overall winner Alexis Pinturault, who reportedly debated retirement last off-season, earned the victory after defending world champion Marco Schwarz blew his lead in the final seconds of his slalom run. Pinturault, who posted a combined time of 1 minute, 53.31 seconds, hadn’t won a race in nearly two years, but posted the fastest super-G time in the morning and held on in the afternoon slalom.
“I hope to enjoy it because it was pretty difficult some months ago,” Pinturault told the Associated Press. “To share this with the French people and also the Courchevel people is something special for me and it’s really hard to describe it.”
“I have the whole collection,” added Schwarz in a post-race press conference. The 27-year-old Austrian also won the bronze in the combined at the 2019 world championships. “Tried to attack in the slalom, I had a little mistake before the finish line, but all in all, it was a good day.”
The Olympic combined podium was absent from Tuesday’s medals. Olympic champion Johannes Strolz of Austria skied out of the slalom after tying for 29th in the super-G and silver and bronze medalists Aleksander Aamodt Kilde and James Crawford used the event as a glorified training run for Thursday’s super-G. The Norwegian and Canadian competed in Tuesday morning’s super-G before sitting out the slalom portion.
Austrian Raphael Haaser (1:53.75) rounded out the podium and Radamus, whose best event is the giant slalom — scheduled for Feb. 17 at worlds — slid into fourth, 0.69 seconds off the win.
“I am happy with my intensity. I have not skied a lot of slalom, so I pushed as hard as I could,” the Edwards skier told U.S. Ski and Snowboard’s Sierra Ryder. “Fourth stings a little, but I pushed as hard as I could.” Erik Arvidsson was the next best American finisher in ninth and Ryan Cochran-Siegle finished in 10th. Luke Winters did not finish the slalom.
Radamus’ super-G was stellar, as the soon-to-be 25-year-old skied from bib No. 25 all the way to fifth place.
“I had probably my best super-G run of my career so far and (was) mostly satisfied with the slalom, too,” Radamus wrote to the Vail Daily after the event. Radamus skied the fifth-fastest slalom of the day and got faster as he made his way down the 57-gate L’Eclipse slope, posting the third-fastest time in the third sector.
“I knew going into the second run that I just didn’t want to regret my approach. I gave it everything I had, made a few mistakes, but I’m happy with my intensity and conviction,” Radamus continued.
“Fourth never feels good, but I have to step back and appreciate the moment. I have a bunch more races here and I hope to approach (them) with the same intensity and confidence.”