Just under two weeks ago Brian McLaughlin competed in his first World Cup at Beaver Creek. Although the result in Colorado was not what McLaughlin had wanted after his first time on the world stage, the experience may have helped.
Prior to this year, even though McLaughlin has spent time on the U.S. Ski Team and on the NorAm circuit, he never found his way to the podium. Just nine days after Beaver Creek, McLaughlin has two podium-finishes including his first win on the circuit.
“I skied some really good sections. Just a couple turns and big mistakes kept me out of second run but that was really cool and it was really cool to see the level that those top guys are at. That was a week before I left and now I am up here trying to do as well as I can at NorAms,” McLaughlin said of his World Cup debut. Although he will return to Dartmouth soon, he hopes to compete in more World Cup events this season.
It turns out, he didn’t have to wait very long for redemption and he won his first NorAm on Tuesday, in the first of two giant slaloms in Panorama.
McLaughlin posted the fasted combined time 2:24.13, followed by River Radamus, who was 0.26 second off the pace. McLaughlin’s Dartmouth teammate, Tanguy Nef, finished in third 0.29 seconds back.
“It’s an awesome feeling when you’ve been racing NorAms for so many years and just never been able to fully crack in a race and then to come through and finish in the lead is pretty cool,” McLaughlin said.
During a technical first run McLaughlin said that he was simply trying to keep himself in the fall line. He succeeded and came down with the lead. He didn’t take his second run until late in the afternoon when the light had dimmed and the course had a few bumps.
“I just had to fight my way down and it was enough to keep the win,” McLaughlin said. His second run didn’t feel very good but he was comforted by the fact that those still in the finish corral echoed the sentiment.
After skiing in a World Cup, NorAm competitions can seem pretty light.
“A NorAm doesn’t feel quite as intense after you’ve done that so it kind of puts things in perspective a little bit,” McLaughlin said.
The next day, on December 13, he had to settle for second as Radamus bested him with a combined time of 2:19.30. McLaughlin finished 0.41 seconds back, followed by Harry Laidlaw in third place, 0.42 seconds back. McLaughlin now leads the giant slalom NorAm standings with 251 points, with Radamus just five points behind. Radamus leads the overall standings headed into two slaloms Dec. 15 and 16.
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