Radamus leads U.S. to team parallel slalom gold medal at FIS World Alpine Ski Championships
Medal is the first for the U.S. in a world championship mixed team parallel
River Radamus brought home his first global championship medal on Tuesday, leading the U.S. to the mixed team parallel slalom gold medal at the 2023 FIS World Alpine Ski Championships in Meribel, France.
The Edwards skier joined Tommy Ford, Nina O’Brien and Paula Moltzan to take down Poland, Italy and Canada in the first round, quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively. In the final, the U.S. won a thrilling 3-2 victory over the defending world champions from Norway to claim the country’s first world championship medal in the mixed team parallel event.
“It’s incredible — It’s my first medal,” Radamus said. “I haven’t had the success I’ve wanted to on the World Cup but to have it in my first event as a team, it makes it even more special to me.”
“It’s a pretty nice Valentine’s Day,” said O’Brien, who was featured in the Vail Daily’s “Fracture Friday” series after recovering in Edwards from leg fractures suffered in the 2022 Olympics.
“I think it feels a bit unbelievable, but six times sweeter to share with my teammates for sure. We absolutely didn’t expect it. I mean, I felt really good about the team and knew we were skiing fast, but I think anything can happen in parallel so there’s really no expectations ever.”
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Canada defeated Austria, the 2022 Olympic gold medalists, in the small final to win the bronze.
In the big final, Nina O’Brien opened with a battle against Kristin Lysdahl. Despite getting caught in a gate’s panel midway, the American maintained her composure and took a 0.13-second win.
Radamus went second against Alexander Steen Olson. The American was consistent all day and held a slight advantage over the Norwegian throughout, but Olson was able to pull back time in the final gates on the red course — which had been skiing fast in the finish throughout — for a 0.04-second win.
Moltzan and Thea Louise Stjernesund would finish in a perfect tie in the third spot, giving both teams a point. Andrew Dampf of the Associated Press reported that Moltzan, who raced most of last season with a broken hand, broke her left hand again in the final run.
“Paula gave absolutely everything on that run. It was pretty inspiring,” Radamus said. It was part and parcel for a team whose narrative was somewhat defined by injuries.
“We’ve all gone through the ringer a bit,” said Ford, who suffered a concussion, damaged ligaments and the meniscus in his right knee, broke his tibial plateau and hurt his wrist during a devastating crash on the giant slalom course in Adelboden, Switzerland, two years ago.
“We heal up and we can still ski and really I’m grateful to be here, and I think everyone else is, too.”
All eyes were on Ford, who faced Timon Haugan to break the tie. Haugan, however, would make things relatively easy for the American. The Norwegian tried to push out of the gate early and tripped over his skis, giving the American a clear path to the 1.5-second victory.
“I didn’t see him out of the corner of my eye,” Ford later told the Associated Press.
“I knew he was fast, so I was just like, something must have happened. But I wasn’t going to let up at all.”
“We all had strong skiing and I had faith in them and I just put down the best skiing I could,” he continued. “It just shows that we have some depth and we train together, travel together all the time and we’re pushing each other and it’s fun to actually work together and build a time.”
“I love this team; all these people have been pushing so hard for this for a long time, so to finally reach the summit with this team is really special,” Radamus added. “For Tommy to have to clutch up in the end there, I think he’s so steady, always so even keel, doesn’t let the moment get to him. And he was able to execute and perform there, which is really cool.”
When asked if he felt this medal could serve as a career launch pad, Radamus continued, saying, “I’ve been chasing a medal for a long time. I’ve come up short often but I’ve had to accept that if I’m not enough without it, I won’t be enough with it.”
“This is a really special day, but I’m sure in a year I’ll have to watch the videos to remember it, you know,” he continued. “So, I have to make sure I keep alway looking forward, keep striving for more and understand that no one race is going to put me where I want to be.”
Radamus continued his world championship program later Tuesday afternoon, placing eighth on the red course to qualify for Wednesday’s individual parallel final.