Rookie Jimmy Cochran wins national slalom
World Cup rookie Jimmy Cochran, with his dad and all of his “Skiing Cochran” aunts on hand – and two ski-racing cousins competing, took the first-run lead Sunday in slalom at the U.S. Alpine Championships and made it stand up for the gold medal.
Downhill champion Bryon Friedman collected the combined title. Cochran, who took leave from the University of Vermont to join the U.S. C Team this season, had a two-run time of 1 minute, 31.91 seconds at Alyeska Resort, Alaska. It’s the first national title by an athlete from the celebrated Clan Cochran since Lindy won the giant-slalom crown in 1976.
Jesse Marshall, bronze medalist a year ago, took the silver medal in 1:32.51 and the bronze went to Chip Knight with a time of 1:32.89. Defending champion Bode Miller missed a gate on his first run and hiked to get back onto the course, but finished 54th.
Friedman, the surprise downhill winner, was 11th in the slalom (1:35.50) to clinch the combined title, his second U.S. championship in 48 hours. Aspen’s Jake Zamansky, eighth in downhill (1:42.09, 3:13 back) and fifth in SL, took the silver medal in combined. Cochran, whose grandfather Mickie was former U.S. head coach in 1974 and whose father and three aunts were Olympians, smiled about the huge family delegation on hand.
“They weren’t putting any pressure on me,” Cochran said. “It’s fun skiing with them. It’s kind of like a family vacation. And to win, it’s unbelievable. I think it’s gonna take all summer for this to set in. It’s exciting.”
His tactic during the slalom, which was run in shadow in the morning and under another blue sky – but with temperatures around 20 degrees in the afternoon, was simple, Cochran said. “The main thing was looking ahead.
“The second run was a lot of rhythm changes, a lot of combinations,” he said. When you’re skiing 30th (under the flip-30 format for the final run), the course is often rutted, he said. “It’s easy to get late after 30 people have gone. My main thing was to look ahead, stay over the skis.”
He was asked about the difference between college racing – Cochran was second in slalom at the 2003 NCAA championships, third in GS wile at UVM – and the U.S. Ski Team.
“The biggest difference is the opportunities you have on the Ski Team. For me, this year has been unbelievable – racing in Europe, training all summer, all fall … the equipment is unbelievable. You get treated so well. In college,” Cochran said, “You’re always budgeting your time – school, classes, finals … and social, too. That’s the biggest thing.”
The men conclude their U.S. Championships schedule today with giant slalom.