River Radamus poses on the medal podium with his gold medal after winning the men's super-G at the Lillehammer 2016 Winter Youth Olympics at the Hafjell Olympic Slope on Feb. 13, 2016 in Hafjell, Norway.
|River Radamus competes in giant slalom at the Lillehammer 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games on Feb. 22, 2016 in Hafjell, Norway.|
HAFJELL, Norway -- River Radamus entered the Lillehammer 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games a virtual unknown and left the Games the most decorated U.S. Youth Olympian in history, summer or winter.
The alpine skier, who turned 18 the day of the Opening Ceremony, started the Games by winning Team USA's first medal, a gold in super-G. He followed that up with two additional golds - in combined and giant slalom - within the next four days.
TeamUSA.org caught up with Radamus at the end of the Games to chat about his accomplishments, experience in Norway and future in the sport.
What were your expectations heading into the Winter Youth Olympic Games?
Just to be named to the team was a huge honor for me, so I just wanted to go out, have as much fun as I could and compete at the best level I possibly could.
Were your surprised by your success?
Absolutely. For me to win three gold medals is something that I never could have imagined. The competition was fierce, and for me to come out on top three days in a row was crazy.
There’s a significant difference between the speed and technical events in alpine skiing, and many skiers specialize in one or the other. You were able to win gold medals across the board. How rare is that?
In modern ski racing, there’s a lot of specialists. To dedicate your time to one event is the go-to, so for me to cross the bridge between tech and speed and be successful in both with the type of competition that was out here is something that I can’t compare anything to.
Have you had this much success at any events previously?
No, this was definitely the biggest success of my career so far.
What does it mean for you to leave these Games as the most decorated U.S. Youth Olympian?
That’s a pretty special feeling. There’s only been four Youth Olympics, so I’m sure at some point it’s going to get broken. But it’s something I’ll cherish for now, and to be able to represent my nation like this was a huge honor.
Which race was your favorite?
My giant slalom. I was really excited because that was the first day my parents were here, so to share that moment with them and be able to stand on that podium and wave to them was a really special moment for me.
What did it mean to have your biggest supporters, your parents, in Norway to watch?
It was really special. My parents throughout my career have done so much for me to get me to this point, so to give back and to give my mom the stuffed mascot that they gave on the podium was a special moment and something that we’ll cherish for a long time.
What was your favorite moment of these Games off the slopes?
Watching most of the USA Hockey games, especially seeing the team come out on top of Russia in the semifinal and Canada in the gold-medal game.
What surprised you the most about the Winter Youth Olympic Games?
The scale of the entire project. Youth Olympics is something I thought would be downplayed, but there’s been so many people who have put so many hours into this and it’s been a great event.
When did you start skiing?
The story my folks tell is I learned to ski before I could walk, so I was 1 or less. I was really young and I’ve just had a love for snow and for being outside ever since.
Your first name has drawn a lot of attention at these Games. What’s the story behind it?
I’ve been asked about that a lot this week. There’s no real meaning behind it. My folks like nature and being out in nature, so they wanted something that had to do with nature. Plus the alliteration makes it a really cool name.
What’s next for you in this sport?
Coming into these Games, all I wanted to do was have fun and perform my best. It’s worked for me so far, so I’m going to continue doing that. Obviously having this experience and being at this scale of an event is something that’s stoked my fire and made me excited to perhaps pursue the Olympics one day, but as long as I’m having fun I’ll be competing and staying in ski racing.
What would fans be surprised to learn about you?
I’m really into photography and taking photos.
What are your goals outside of ski racing?
Outside of ski racing, I’d love to be a journalist one day and travel the world that way. Being able to pursue the sport like I have and travel all around the world – go to Norway and go to Europe – is something I really love to do, so if I can take that into another avenue of my life, that’d be something I would enjoy.