The bond between ski racers and their moms: 2 feel-good moments from Birds of Prey |

The bond between ski racers and their moms: 2 feel-good moments from Birds of Prey

'I'm saving this one for my mom'

Tommy Ford savors a moment with his mom in between runs at the Birds of Prey World Cup giant slalom on Sunday at Beaver Creek.
Ross Leonhart |

BEAVER CREEK — Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s River Radamus finished his Birds of Prey Wolrd Cup giant slalom run on Sunday in front of an excited hometown crowd at Beaver Creek. While the 21-year-old didn’t make the cut, young fans in the Red Tail finish area were clamoring for his bib after the run.

“Sorry, I’m saving this one for my mom,” he politely told them.

It was a sad moment for the kids, but surely a happy moment for Mrs. Radamus.

The moment was one of two captured by the Vail Daily showing a special bond members of the men’s U.S. Ski Team share with their mothers.

Tommy Ford put down a near-perfect first run of the giant slalom on Sunday, heading into the second run sitting in first place. On his way back to the athlete area in between runs, he ran into his mother.

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The two shared a long embrace, with pride beaming from Mary Ellen Ford.

“It was beautiful,” she said of the moment. “It’s hard to explain.”

Fan to River Radamus: "Can I have your bib?" — River: "Sorry, I'm saving this one for my mom."
Mary Ellen Ford hugs her son Tommy after he qualified in first for the second run of the Birds of Prey giant slalom on Sunday.

Mary Ellen coached Tommy as a kid and follows the World Cup tour through Europe, supporting her son. She also supports the other men whose parents might not be able to make it to every stop.

Shortly after Tommy parted ways with his mom, Mary Ellen stopped Ryan Cochran-Siegel, giving him two hugs — one from her and one “from his mom” who wasn’t there. She said the Fords grew up with the Cochran family.

In addition to his mother in town from Bend, Oregon, for the races, Tommy’s father is at Beaver Creek, as well as his girlfriend, women’s U.S. Ski Team member Laurenne Ross.

“She’s amazing,” Mary Ellen said. “They’ve known each other since they were 6 years old.”

Tommy went on to win his first World Cup race of his career, the first American to win at Birds of Prey since 2014. He celebrated with his coaches, teammates — and family after the race.

If you can, don’t forget to call your mom today.

Assistant editor Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2984 and Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill.

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