Radamus to the maximus
Radamus infuses childlike, joyful purpose with his mature approach to maximizing his potential on the slopes
The Chad Fleischer-inspired hairdo of River Radamus is deceptive.
Underneath the colorful locks is a driven skier with a secure philosophy of competition that would make John Wooden proud.
“Making the most of the time I have and maximizing my potential and maximizing my abilities is what drives me every day,” the former Ski and Snowboard Club Vail athlete told Vail Daily Live on Wednesday.
This mature outlook is evidenced in the two-time world junior champion’s holistic approach to maximizing his potential. He has shifted to prioritizing the mental side of the sport just as much as the physical.
“The mental side of the game is something that I think I wasn’t using to it’s full potential until recently,” he admitted.
“There are so many variables in this sport, and so many things that can go wrong in any given moment,” he said. “It’s not a sport in a bubble, and you have a minute and a half to stand in that start and perform to your absolute peak, but stuff happens.”
Radamus said he is working to derive his internal satisfaction from an attitude of gratitude towards all of the little things required for peak performance. He trusts that his dedication to the daily grind will be sufficient, and he is at peace knowing it is all he has autonomy over to begin with.
“I know that if I put the work in and repeat the stuff that I can control, I’ll have my day eventually,” he said. “And I’ll have it more often than not, as long as I take it that way instead of putting the cart before the horse and think about the outcomes before the process.”
Emerging as one of the promising young stars on the men’s side, Radamus is working to instill a culture of camaraderie within his teammates. He said he takes his culture cues from the Norwegian team, a perennial ski powerhouse.
“Something that they (the Norwegians) talk about a lot is, ‘I know in this sport, I’m not going to have my day every day,” he said. “But, if I put in the work, and I make sure my teammate puts in the work every day, and I work alongside them and push them, then when they have their day, I can take satisfaction in that, because I helped create that.”
At last week’s Killington World Cup news conference, another Edwards native, Mikaela Shiffrin, spoke about how internal competition stemming from the talented youth movement on the women’s team is driving her to up her game as well. Radamus believes the same thing is possible for the men, too.
“Whether it’s in the gym or on the hill, I’m pushing them to be as good or as driven as they can be,” he said. “And I want them to do the same for me.”
Only time will tell if his words are prescient regarding a resurgence of the U.S. men, but he is confident they are headed in the right direction.
“We have that momentum; we’re starting to see the fruits of the labor.”
One could expand upon the narrative regarding Radamus’ mature demeanor and approach to overcoming obstacles and disappointment. He admitted last year that the weight of expectations at times, “kicked him in the teeth.”
But, pivoting towards the youthful exuberance that is the foundation of his passion will go a lot farther in explaining that hairstyle we were talking about to begin with.
While much has been written about the snow leopard imitation, references to Fleischer, the 1999 World Champion silver medalist, accurately characterizes the bulk of those locutions. Underneath the hair, however, is a youthful spirit rushing to the Beaver Creek lift from Edwards Elementary to sneak in a run after school with his mom before the lifts stop for the day. Radamus evoked this childlike joy he attributes to the sport, and specifically his home hill when he reminisced on those early days.
“Those were some of my fondest memories as a child.”
Now, he feels like everything is coming full circle. Radamus will contest the super-G later today at the Xfinity Birds of Prey World Cup — on a course he served as a forerunner for during the 2015 Alpine World Championships.
“So, coming back here and being able to race against the best skiers in the world, to me … I feel like already it’s a success,” he said.
“Just seeing how far I’ve come in this journey.”
He is coming off of a sixth-place showing at the lone super giant slalom contested on the World Cup so far in 2021-2022. The super giant slalom scheduled for Nov. 28 in Lake Louise was canceled.
With his early season success in his back pocket, Radamus isn’t looking to sit on his laurels. Even with his lofty goals, however, success, like Wooden once preached, won’t solely be defined by the clock.
“I’m working hard to focus on the process instead of the outcomes,” he said. “In saying that, I know that I’ve put the work in to succeed, and I know that I’ve prepared as much as I possibly can. So wherever the results lie, I’m going to be really proud and hold my head high.”
Wooden’s hair would be boring to emulate. And Grantland Rice — who wrote that it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you played the game — hardly had any hair. I guess we’ll have to be OK with him copying Fleischer. Maybe the flamboyant style makes the most sense anyway, because for Radamus, it’s all about having fun.
“This sport and all sport, you can’t take too seriously. So, first and foremost, it has to be from a place of joy and a place of fun,” he said.
“That’s what comes first for me: a place of joy and a place of fun. If I have that passion, everyday, the wake-ups at 5 a.m. or the extra runs on the hill or the time in the gym get so much easier because I know what my ‘why’ is and I know what I’m doing it for and it’s because I love it.”