Photo: Jonathan Selkowitz

A star is born

The early chapters of the River Radamus story were written right here in the Vail Valley

By Tom Boyd

You might have noticed something special about this year’s Xfinity Birds of Prey poster.

The racer on that poster – the one whose speed is blurring the image, and whose face seems to encapsulate the razor’s-edge thrill of rocketing down the course among the world’s best; the one whose image is showing up in newspaper ads, digital ads, and on all the creative imagery surrounding this year’s Xfinity Birds of Prey Audi FIS Ski World Cup – that racer is River Radamus.

River Radamus
River Radamus

The image (the same one atop this article) is a photo from legendary ski photographer Jonathan Selkowitz. It was taken in 2017, when, at 19 years old, Radamus made his Audi FIS Ski World Cup debut on the Xfinity Birds of Prey giant slalom course. He missed qualifying for the second run by less than 0.2 seconds.

This year, at 20, Radamus aims to take another leap forward on the world-famous course that’s only minutes from his home. A long-time Vail Valley local and top racer out of Ski and Snowboard Club Vail, Radamus is making waves in local ski racing circles – and those waves are traveling overseas as Radamus embarks on his first full year going hard at the Audi FIS Ski World Cup tour. After making his debut in Beaver Creek, River raced another Audi FIS Ski World Cup Giant Slalom in Adelboden, Switzerland on Jan. 6, 2018, then made his World Cup slalom debut in Levi, Finland on Nov. 11, 2018, but he said that coming out of the starting gate here in his home-town race is a moment unlike any other.

“I’ve been watching Birds of Prey my whole life,” Radamus said. “When I was in elementary school, we used to have field trips to go watch when it came to town. I’d get to watch guys like Weibrecht, Bode, Ted, Nolan, etc., just crush at these races, and dream of an opportunity to do the same. And now I get my chance to race against the world’s best in my own backyard. I mean, how can you not love that? It’s races like this that I’ve worked my whole life for.”

Known for his unbeatable work ethic and mature-beyond-his-years demeanor, the 20-year-old seems to be taking his new position in the limelight well. Much like Lindsey Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin, who also came out of the Ski and Snowboard Club Vail program, Radamus seems well coached not only on the mechanics of ski racing, but also the finer points of being an upstanding young gentleman.

It may have helped that his father, Aldo Radamus, was Executive Director of Ski and Snowboard Club Vail for 14 years, coinciding with his son’s matriculation.

“I owe a huge debt to Ski and Snowboard Club Vail for where I am today,” Radamus said. “SSCV was hugely influential in molding me into the skier I am today. Birds of Prey gave me exposure to elite alpine competition at an early age and helped me believe it was possible. And most importantly, the community around here, that has been so supportive of ski racing, and supportive of me. It’s definitely going to be special charging for the hometown crowd.”

Radamus is a potential start for the Friday super G, an announcement he will confirm or deny at a press conference schedule for Thursday, Nov. 29 at 4 p.m. Radamus is also scheduled to start in the Sunday giant slalom once again.

When he comes out of the starting gate, there’s little doubt a huge swell of support will erupt from the thousands of gathered fans as they watch history in the making.

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