USA Wins Gold in the World Championships Team Event
The Stifel U.S. Alpine Ski Team dominated the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships team event, taking home their first ever parallel gold medal and the team’s second medal of the World Champs. The team was made up of athletes Nina O’Brien, Paula Moltzan, Tommy Ford and River Radamus for the starters, and Katie Hensien and Luke Winters as substitutes.
It was a bright and sunny day in Meribel, France on a short parallel race track that pits teams against each other from the start to the finish. Teams have a maximum of six competitors (four starters and two substitutes) with two men and two women. In each heat, teams face each other and race head-to-head with the first skier crossing the line to secure a point for their team. The first team to three points advances to the next round. If the heat is tied, the team with the fastest combined team between their quickest woman and man skier move onto the next round.
The Stifel U.S. Alpine Ski Team came in and quickly defeated Poland to make it to the quarterfinals, then took three of the four races in the semifinals against Italy to advance to the medal round. In the semifinals, the U.S. beat their North American compatriot Canadians to move onto the gold medal round where they faced the team event 2021 World Champions, the Norwegians.
“It’s incredible,” said Radamus. “To have it in my first event as a team makes it even more special to me. I love this team. All these people have been pushing so hard at this for a long time so to finally reach the summit for this team is really special.”
It was a close race that kept everyone on their toes. O’Brien had some trouble, but eeked out a win over Kristin Lysdahl. Radamus kept it close versus Alexander Steen Olsen, but lost by .04 seconds. The undefeated Moltzan faced Thea Louise Stjernesund and the two tied, which meant it came down to Ford to bring home the win. Ford faced Timon Haugan, who got stuck in the start gate and Ford was able to ski down into his teammates’ arms for the win.
The was the first ever medal in this event for the Stifel U.S. Alpine Ski Team, who just missed the medals in the 2022 Olympic Games, taking fourth place. It is also the first medal for all six athletes and the first team gold of the 2023 World Championships.
“It feels unbelievable,” said O’Brien. “But it’s six-times sweeter to share it with my teammates. We didn’t expect it. I felt really good about our team and knew we were skiing fast, but anything can happen in parallel. I’m really proud of everyone on our team and really happy to be a part of it.”
“It was great to be out there with the family, the team,” said Ford. “We all have strong skiing and I had faith in them and I just put down the best skiing I could. It just shows that we have some depth—we train together, we travel together all the time and we’re always pushing each other. It’s fun to actually work together!”
The Norwegians took silver. The Canadians continued their impressive World Championships performance with a bronze medal.
The parallel events continue next with men’s and women’s parallel qualifiers taking place today, Feb. 14, and finals tomorrow, Feb. 15.