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River Radamus Nabs Second Title while Ryder Sarchett Comes Oh So Close
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Bridger Gile, River Radamus and George Steffey celebrate their Giant Slalom medals at the Toyota U.S. Alpine Championships in Sun Valley Friday.
   
Saturday, March 23, 2024
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

U.S. Olympian River Radamus swept to his second national championship in two days at the Toyota U.S. Alpine Championships being held through Sunday in Sun Valley.

But the story of the day for the crowd waiting at the bottom of the giant slalom run was Ryder Sarchett, who grew up racing for the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation and now races for the University of Colorado.

He swooshed to fourth place--just 0.6 hundredths of a second behind six-year U.S. Ski Team veteran George Steffey with the fastest second run of the day.

 
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Sun Valley’s Ryder Sarchett catches his breath after posting the fastest second run of the day.
 

"0.6 hundredths of a second is the margin by which he won the 2024 Junior World Championships giant slalom race last month in France," said longtime friend and neighbor Maureen Pressley.

Sarchett ran his first World Cup giant slalom at Saalbach, Austria, on March 16 where he had the third fastest second run in a race where Radamus finished 17th in deteriorating snow conditions.

Sarchett, who skied 14th of 84 skiers, came in 1:69 hundredth of a second behind Radamus in the first of two runs, skiing it in 1:01.68 to Radamus' 59.99. But he outskied Radamus 1:03.49 to 1:03.92 in the second run to catapult past a few other skiers to fourth place behind Steffey.

His dazzling finish elicited a roar from the large crowd watching from below.

 
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George Steffey consults with his coach following the Giant Slalom race.
 

Then that crowd watched as Radamus jumped onto the giant slalom course, which started just below the lip of Upper Greyhawk. He sailed through a myriad of gates on Upper Greyhawk, which sported so many gates it resembled flags they resembled flags stuck in a map. He cut over to Hemingway, then roared back to Lower Greyhawk, where he left a half-dozen gates waving in his wake  as he crossed the finish line in 1 minute 3.92 seconds for a combined time of 2:03.91.

He took a spill after he crossed the finish line but spun around and bounced right back up.

"I love Sun Valley," said Radamus, following the presentation of flowers in a quick three-minute ceremony before the bottom 54 of the skiers got to take their second runs. "I've got a lot of relatives here so I've gotten to ski it a lot. I love the snow here, and the mountain is demanding. It brings out the best in my skiing.

"And the snow conditions this week have been really good. I'm loving the surfaces, and I love coming here and getting to ski with all my friends," added Radamus, who has been on the U.S. Ski Team for nine years.

 
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With temperatures again climbing into the 50s, Jay Poulter sends up a spray as he approaches the finish line.
 

Aspen's Bridger Gile, a 5-year-member of the U.S. Ski Team, posted times of 1:00.61 and 1:03.97 for a combined time of 2:04.58.

Steffey, a former giant slalom champion from Stratton Mountain School in Vermont, posted a combined time of 2:05.11 to Sarchett's 2:05.17.

Sarchett's fastest second run, meanwhile, earned him a spot on the top of the podium for junior men. Joining him was second place finisher Jay Poulter, who finished first in Wednesday's FIS super-G, and third-place finisher Camden Palmquist, of Eagen, Minn.

As with Wednesday's super-G, a lot of racers did not finish the course, either missing a gate or skiing off course. Thirty of the 84 racers did not finish the first run, and others failed to make it all the way down the demanding course in the second run.

 
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Sun Valley's Jack Smith, who took second in the FIS super-G on Wednesday, skied the giant slalom in 1:03.50 and 104.83 minutes for a combined time of 2:03.33. "The course was very turn-y and a little icy," he said.
 

"The course was okay--some death cookies," said Steffey, referring to marble-like snow that sometimes crops up during spring. "Overall, The conditions have been good, though."

TODAY'S RACES

The Women's Giant Slalom Race No. 1 will take place at 9:30 a.m. The top 30 finishers will then go first in the second race at 12:30 p.m. with the leader skiing last.

An Awards Ceremony is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. at Warm Springs Plaza where David Burchfield will play live music from 2 to 5 p.m. An Athlete Signing will take place there from 4 to 5 p.m.

A Sponsor Village featuring National Championships and U.S. Ski Team merchandise, sunglasses, goggles and other merchandise will be there from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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