Catching up with Cochran-Siegle

World Cup winner set to resume skiing for first time since January crash that ended his season and required surgery.
Published: Apr. 23, 2021 at 9:11 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont alpine ski star Ryan Cochran-Siegle is set to get back on the snow.

Ryan suffered this crash competing in a World Cup downhill at Kitsbuehel in late January. Although he was able to pretty quickly sit up and move under his own power, Cochran-Siegle did suffer a neck injury in the crash, a fracture of his C7 vertebrae. He underway surgery in February and has been recovering since.

Cochran-Siegle, who turned 29 in March, says that the recovery has been going well, and he is set to join the U-S Ski Team for a spring training camp at Mammoth Mountain in California at the start of May, which will be his first time back skiing since the crash.

There is never a good time for an athlete to suffer an injury, but the timing of this one was particularly tough for Cochran-Sielge, who was in the best form of his career.

He had earned his first career World Cup podium finish and his first World Cup victory in the month prior to the crash, and the World Championships, where he would have been a medal contender in both the downhill and super G, were less than a month away.

Even though he missed the final month of World Cup competition, Cochran-Siegle still finished ranked 10th in the Super G, 14th in the downhill and 22nd in the World Cup overall standings, a testament to the season he was having.

Ryan says it was frustrating to have that season cut short, but he’s trying to use that as motivation in his return.

“I think I had a ton of momentum from my past results that month up to the day that I got injured, and having to just immediately step back from that and not continue to work forward from there was definitely tough.”, said Cochran-Siegle.

“But trying to take it as it is and using that momentum I had to try to get myself the motivation now, in order to work hard to try to get back to where I was, and recognizing that I didn’t feel like I was done.

I still feel like I had more to give. Obviously, I wanted to ski a full season and to have that season cut short so early, it’s a bummer, but it’s definitely motivating too.”

Ryan says he expects to be at full strength when the new World Cup season begins late this year. The 2022 Winter Olympics are set for this coming February. Cochran-Siegle made the U-S team for the 2018 Games and is likely a favorite to make the team again, but given the time he missed due to his injury, Ryan says he wants to make sure he plays it smart as he looks toward his return to competition.

“I don’t want to be building expectations immediately for those first couple of races, because I think getting back in a race enviornment, it takes time to readjust and get used to that.”, said Cochran-Siegle.

“But trying to also recognize that there’s plenty of time between the start of the season and when I really need to be kicking it into full gear by the end of January and into February.

Obviously, I think going to the Olympics is not a given, so I need to work hard in order to put myself in that position, but the whole timeline of it is really positive. From where I stand right now to where I need to be as I hit different points of the season. It will be a challenge but I think it’ll be a good challenge.”

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