Cochran sizzles through second run, wins second U.S. championship
GIRDWOOD, Alaska – Newly crowned U.S. slalom champion Jimmy Cochran (Keene, NH), conceding it was “unbelievable,” won his second national title in two days Monday as he captured the gold medal in giant slalom at the Chevrolet U.S. Alpine Championships by more than a half-second.
“Win two titles in 24 hours? No, no way could I figure that would happen,” Cochran said. “This is unbelievable.”
First-run leader Daron Rahlves (Sugar Bowl, CA) fell early on his final run, giving the championship to the 22-year-old Cochran, who produced the fastest second run and had a winning time of 2:08.38. Jake Zamansky (Aspen) was silver medalist in 2:08.97 and Tom Rothrock (Cashmere, WA) collected bronze in 2:09.26 at Alyeska Resort.
Defending champion Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) missed a gate on his first run, hiked and finished 35th. Temperatures for the final run were flirting with 30 degrees under another clear, blue Alaska sky.
“I don’t know what to say. It’s been a lot of fun, it’s a beautiful day, this is a great place to be and this is unbelievable,” the easy-smiling Cochran said in the finish area. “There’s no way I could have thought I’d win again today. I started top-10 and wanted to finish top-10.”
Rahlves, whose first of five U.S. championships came in GS in 1995, held a half-second lead after the 47-gate, first run, but went down at the top of the second course. Cochran, who had been third in the first run, .95 back, and Zamansky, who had been second behind Rahlves, were at the bottom waiting to find out what color medal they would have.
“I had nothing to lose after [Sunday’s SL],” said Cochran, who took leave from the University of Vermont to race for the U.S. C Team this season. “I decided to just go like hell and what happens happens. I didn’t put any pressure on myself.”
Between runs, Cochran said he considered starting cautiously and turning up the speed as he came through the 46-gate (45 direction changes) final run, which was set by U.S. SL/GS Head Coach Mike Morin. But, as he thought about it, Cochran chucked that game plan and decided to gun it from the start.
“It was a pretty tough set for the second run,” said Cochran. “I was sort of thinking of giving up a little bit on top and then pick it up skiing to the bottom. Well, I thought, ‘If you’re gonna race, give it your best – go for the win. Leave it all out there’ and I did.”
A family thing
His victory boosted the Cochran clan’s U.S. championship total to 18 gold medals. His father Bob, a 1972 Olympian, won nine U.S. titles; his aunts Marilyn, Barbara Ann and Lindy – Olympians all – won seven others.
In addition to his father and aunts, Cochran’s grandmother Ginny, widow of Mickie, the former U.S. head coach and patriarch of the family in Richmond, Vt., also was on hand as Cochran doubled his U.S. championships total.
The U.S. championships conclude Tuesday with women’s GS. Included in the field is Lindy Cochran’s daughter, Jessica Kelley (Starksboro, VT), the 2003 Nor Am GS champion who was silver medalist a year ago at the Chevy title races on Whiteface Mountain outside Lake Placid, N.Y.