Vail’s River Radamus to get first World Cup start
BEAVER CREEK — Ted Ligety is hoping for good results on Sunday, Dec. 3, and not just from himself.
“I’m hoping River can step it up,” Ligety said Friday, Dec. 1. “He’s skiing well right now, we’ll see what he can do in a race.”
River Radamus, 19, is scheduled to make his first World Cup start on Sunday. Radamus grew up in Vail, the son of former ski racers Aldo and Sara Radamus. He’s been skiing in the North America Cup for years, but did not earn a spot in a World Cup race until early this season, when he came from starting positions in the high 40s to notch a pair of top-10 finishes in the first two North America Cup giant slalom races of the season. It was in mid-November, so top-level athletes were at Copper Mountain competing, as Copper Mountain was one of the only places in North America to offer training at the time. Competitors such as Trevor Philp and Phil Brown from Canada — who have multiple top 25 finishes at the World Cup level — were racing, and Radamus was able to show the field that he could compete among their ilk.
“It was good to show I had speed early season against an elite field,” Radamus said.
As a result, he was awarded a spot in Sunday’s giant slalom.
“It’s a dream come true,” he said. “When I dreamed about ski racing as a kid, I dreamed making the U.S. Ski Team and going to the Olympics one day, but I also dreamed about racing at Beaver Creek.”
Sunday’s race won’t be an unfamiliar experience for Radamus. As a Ski & Snowboard Club Vail athlete, he has been slipping the course and helping with preparation since before his teenage years.
“When I was 12 through 14, I got to be up close and personal up there, watching from the hill as the guys would go by,” Radamus said. “And then a couple of years later I got to start forerunning it.”
Radamus foreran the men’s GS at the 2015 FIS World Alpine Ski Championships, so in his own way, he does have experience with the giant slalom on Birds of Prey.
“I know what I’m getting into,” he said from Beaver Creek on Friday. “I know what the course is typically like here; I know it’s long, so I’m going to need to use every bit of energy I’ve got.”
While that knowledge will help cut down on the apprehension heading into Sunday’s race, Radamus is still feeling nervous.
“Some of my friends and family will be cheering down there and celebrating me, and I definitely want to go out there and do something for them to cheer for,” he said. “But I think I’ll be celebrating regardless of the result.”
Radamus is hoping he can live up to the successes of his superiors on the U.S. Ski Team, a group he’s watched closely for years.
“I got to get on skis very young, and got to be around some of the best in the world,” he said. “I think I know quite a bit about ski racing just from that history.”
Radamus’ parents have both coached at the elite level; his father was a coach on the U.S. Ski Team before moving on to become the executive director of Ski & Snowboard Club Vail, where his mom was the head alpine coach.
“Being around the World Cup level for so long, being in Vail where — every year when I was growing up — I watched the World Cup from the sidelines, was something that accustomed me to what it’s like to be at the World Cup level,” Radamus said. “To be able to see that elite level up close at a young age is something not a lot of people get to do.”
A student of the sport and its history, Radamus says the U.S. Team is now in a position to have the younger generation follow in the footsteps of some of their more successful superiors.
“I think that we’ve got some young guys coming through the ranks right now that are going to have some opportunity to really break into the upper level over the next couple of years,” Radamus said. “Sam Morse is a young gun trying to pull through in speed, and we’ve got guys like Drew Duffy and Kipling Weisel who are really on the cusp of taking on the World Cup level, and guys like George Steffey and Luke Winters who are making it through the development team and are going to be contending really soon.”
Morse had his first World Cup super-G start in Beaver Creek on Friday. In looking to the future of the team, Morse said he sees Radamus as a big part of what could come next.
“River Radamus is an awesome kid who is unbelievably talented,” Morse said on Friday. “I haven’t seen anybody who can do some of the stuff he can on skis; he truly is the next generation.”
The Birds of Prey giant slalom is scheduled to start at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday.