Fifty years later, the name “Cochran” is back on the podium at the Winter Olympics.
U.S. Alpine skier Ryan Cochran-Siegle captured an unlikely silver medal in the men’s super-G Tuesday morning in Yanqing, furthering a family ski racing legacy that first began with mother Barbara Ann Cochran’s slalom gold medal at the 1972 Sapporo Olympics.
Cochran-Siegle, the 14th man down "The Rock" speed course, skied a controlled and deceptively fast run that came within four hundredths of Austrian Matthias Mayer’s gold medal-winning time of 1:19.94.
The 29-year-old Vermonter, who works on his family’s maple syrup farm during the summer, became the first American man to win an Olympic medal in Alpine skiing since the 2014 Sochi Olympics. U.S. skiers have now won silver in the men’s super-G in three of the last four Winter Games, after Bode Miller did so in Vancouver 2010, followed by Andrew Weibrecht four years later in Sochi.
“I totally believed in him. I knew that he was capable of doing it,” Barbara Ann Cochran said on the NBC Primetime broadcast from Vermont. “You never know on a particular day whether or not it’s going to happen, but I knew he was capable. I’m just so proud.”
Just one year ago, nearly to the day, Cochran-Siegle underwent neck surgery to repair a small fracture sustained during a downhill crash in January 2021. The injury cost the 29-year-old nearly a full season of action right as he was unlocking his best-ever form. This is his first podium since the injury.
"It's special," an emotional Cochran-Siegle said while waiting for his medal to become official. "I think as an athlete you're always charging and always trying to get better, and I think sometimes you can use [injuries] as fuel, but just never give up on yourself."
Mayer, meanwhile, became just the third man ever to repeat as Olympic champion in any Alpine skiing discipline. He also took bronze in the men’s downhill 24 hours earlier.
Mayer's run nearly began in disaster. The Austrian balked his start but did not make contact with the starting gate, barely preventing the clock from starting prematurely on his run.
Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, the world’s top-ranked skier in both speed disciplines entering the Winter Games, earned his first career Olympic medal, a bronze.