For Team USA’s Ryan Cochran-Siegle, downhill skiing is a family affair. Not only did his mother, Barbara Ann Cochran, win gold in slalom at the 1972 Sapporo Winter Olympics, but she also runs the ski school in Richmond, Vermont, where four-year-old Ryan , put on a pair of skis for the first time. Now 29, Cochran-Siegle is a veteran of the World Cup circuit who is finding the best form of his career just in time to compete in his second Winter Olympics. Cochran-Siegle earned the long-awaited first victory of his 10-year World Cup career in December 2021 in the super-G. He is arguably Team USA’s best hope for a medal in men’s alpine skiing at the Winter Games.
As part of our preparation for the 2022 Winter Games, NBC Olympics sent questionnaires to many athletes to learn more about their lives inside and outside of sport. Here is what we found out about Cochran-Siegle:
What was the influence of your parents in your sports career?
I started skiing thanks to my mother, Olympic gold medalist skier Barbara Ann Cochran. As a child, my grandparents, Mickey and Ginny Cochran, were responsible for our family ski area, Cochran’s Ski Area, where my mother ran the ski school program and where I learned to ski.
Do you have a job outside of your sport?
When I’m home during the off-season, I help out at my cousin’s sugar bush, Syrup from the slopes, located on our family lot in Richmond, VT. Depending on the time of year, this usually involves boiling maple syrup or removing the taps from the trees once the sap has run out. For me, it’s less a job and more a way to come home and help out in my cousin’s family business. It’s also a great way to be productive while spending time outdoors in the woods with the family, exploring our Cochran family land.
How did your hometown shape who you are today?
I spent my entire childhood in Starksboro, Vermont. That’s where I grew up. People and places have helped me become who I am today. That’s where I learned humility, hard work and dedication, and how to be a good person and be respectful.
How long do you train on a given day? How much do you sleep?
Usually two to three hours a day on snow, another hour or so on dry land. I try to get nine hours of sleep a night with a 30-45 minute nap during the day.
What is surprising about your training?
That we still spend a lot of time skiing in the summer in South America, New Zealand and occasionally on European glaciers.
What is your first memory in your sport?
I remember skiing at Cochran Ski Area when I was about four or five years old, around the same time I started running. I mostly remember chasing the older ski club kids around the mountain and on the courses. I have loved skiing and ski racing since the very beginning. I wouldn’t consider that I really dedicated my life to it until I graduated high school and made the USA Ski Team.
Did you have a specific breakthrough moment?
Score my first World Cup points in Beaver Creek, Colorado at the age of 19 in 2011. It was the first time I felt like I could compete with the best skiers in the world.
Do you have any hidden talents?
I really like photography. I don’t know if I’m skilled enough to call it a talent per se, but I love the art of composition and creating something that feels good to watch and share with the world.
What would you do if you weren’t an athlete?
Make maple syrup!