Americans not named Shiffrin are on the podium? Cool
Way to go, Breezy
Who are you and what have you done with the U.S. Ski Team? American racers not named Mikaela Shiffrin are hitting the podium.
Miss Mikaela is idle — rightly so, building up to tech events in Semmering, Austria after Christmas — and the U.S. Ski Team has three podiums this weekend with one more day of racing to go.
Breezy Johnson had never made a World Cup podium before this weekend. She now has two — consecutive third-place finishes in downhills in Val d’Isere, France. Meanwhile, what in the wide, wide world of sports is Ryan Cochran-Siegle doing with a silver medal in downhill from Val Gardena, Italy?
Any discussion involving Johnson must start with her first name. How cool is the name Breezy for a ski racer? Jokes aside, brava to Johnson. She has earned these bronze medals. It’s more than 120 points for her.
Before the 2018 Olympics, Johnson fractured her tibial plateau. For those who are into injury trivia, Lindsey Vonn also did her tibial plateau during her massive crash in the 2013 worlds in Schladming, Austria.
Johnson still made it back to the winter games and finished seventh in the downhill. At only 22, Johnson was hoping to take off from there. During summer 2018, she did her ACL in training. In 2019, how about the PCL and the MCL?
Now 24, is she emerging? One hopes, by the law of averages, that Johnson is due a few injury-free years. Let’s see what she can do. Her next races will be in St. Anton, Austria, during the second weekend of January.
Is this the beginning of big things for Cochran-Siegle, 28? Given his age, it’s not as likely. As with pretty much everyone on the U.S. Ski Team through the years with the exception Bode Miller — and even Bode had his charming moments — Cochran-Siegle is a good guy and you want good things for him.
Perhaps more importantly, the third generation of Cochrans to ski, Ryan’s got his podium. His mother, Barbara Ann Cochran, was the 1972 Olympic slalom champion. Fun trivia from the U.S. Ski Team. Mom also won silver at Val Gardena during the 1970 worlds in slalom. (This is just the beginning of all the Cochran trivia one could do.)
American ski racing fans, by and large, are used to superstars. During the last 20 years, we have been blessed to have four — Bode, Ted Ligety, Lindsey Vonn and Shiffrin. We are always looking for “the next Lindsey Vonn/Mikaela Shiffrin,” which are really tough acts to follow.
Every skiing country has methodically examined the lives of Vonn and Shiffrin to try to figure out the magic formula of reproducing the perfect skier like Vonn or Shiffrin. Spoiler alert: They were born that way.
Make no mistake, Vail’s dynamic duo has worked tirelessly during their respective careers, but those two just started on a different talent plane than most mortals. Lightning has already struck twice in a generation with Vonn and Shiffrin. Are you hoping for the hat trick?
Maybe, we should change our focus. Instead of looking for the next Lindsey Shiffrin (just making sure you’re paying attention), maybe let’s just look for the next Breezy Johnson or Ryan Cochran-Siegle.
Congratulations to both and keep it going.
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