One Vermonter heading to PyeongChang this month is an alpine skier with a name that evokes its own bit of Olympic history. Ryan Cochran-Siegle's mother Barbara Ann Cochran won gold in the 1972 Olympic slalom. Now Cochran-Siegle, 25, who grew up in Starksboro is competing in his first Olympics.
Cochran-Siegle won gold in the 2013 Junior World Championships. But after that victory, he was sidelined by a torn ACL, and missed out on two ski seasons and the 2014 Olympic trials.
"When you blow your knee it's a pretty severe traumatic injury, and so it's definitely emotional. And I had obviously still wanted to continue my season at that point but I was unable to," he said, from Europe where he was training ahead of the games.
"And that's pretty heartbreaking as an athlete. But I was just trying to stay positive throughout it and just kept moving forward."
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"But ... when I was ready to come back I was kind of like, 'Well, am I going to be able to still compete at the level that I was at before?' and I think I'm still kind of initially, like just mentally trying to get over the fact that I was injured for so long."
"And what I've had to come through like I mean pretty much just knowing how physical this sport can be. It's tough to get over it and really just like allow yourself to fall down now a mountain, in a good way."
Cochran-Siegle says his goal in PeyongChang is to compete well.
"Just based on like World Cup results, I'm obviously not been anywhere near close to being at the podium," says Cochran-Siegle. "And I think a lot of people — not that they expect a podium finish — but that's kind of the biggest honors of going the Olympics."
"So I don't know that I'd really want to put that pressure on me, of trying to just go there just to get a medal. I think there's a lot more to offer," he said. "That being said — I do think my skiing is capable to the point where if I put together two runs it's hard to say what could happen. You never really know with skiing."
Many people back in Vermonters and at his family's ski area in Richmond will be rooting for Cochran-Siegle in the Alpine Combined and Super G, including his family, who isn't traveling to PeyongChang.
Cochran-Siegle says he doesn't mind that his family's ski history and his mother's gold medal are always mentioned along with his own.
"It just shows what she's been able to accomplish and how successful she was as a ski racer, for her to have been able to do that," he said.
"I think growing up with that it has also allowed me to pursue similar goals and to believe in myself the same way that my mom was able to believe in [herself].
"I've always loved that: The fact that she's been so successful and well-known. It's kind of she's kind of paved the way for the rest of us."
And he's grateful for the support of the state that he's proud to call home.
"I love Vermont, absolutely. It's my favorite place to be. I always call it home.
"And I think it's cool that such a small state can have such competitive ... spirit; to be able to create such so many Olympians relative to its size. So I think it's an incredibly special place and I'm super happy to be a part of it."