Thoughtful and precise not only describes the ski style of River Radamus, but that of his well-spoken demeanor off the hill as well. His mature skiing abilities and attitude are defining characteristics of this U.S. Ski Team member and Spyder athlete. Throughout the past 6 months River has been redefining and strengthening his mental and physical aptitude during some much needed down time. We checked in with River to hear what he has been doing to stay grounded and focused during trying times and how he is preparing to come out of the gate at full steam this next season.
Spyder - What did the end of your season look like? Can you walk us through where you were and how things changed?
River - Right when everything started, we were in Austria training for some of the last World Cups of the season and we went from one day thinking we were going to race to being woken up by our coach at 2am saying, ‘everything has been cancelled and if we don’t leave right now there is a possibility we are stuck in the country for the next month’. We hopped in the car as fast as possible and didn’t even have our flights scheduled yet. I ended up scheduling my new flight 15 minutes before showing up to the airport, immediately jumped on a plane and went home. It went from full on thinking we were going to finish the season to realizing how serious the situation was overnight. It definitely shifted our perspectives on the months to come and the end of the season. It put it into perspective very quickly how real this was, how serious this was and that it wasn’t going away anytime soon.
Once we got home, we took a step back and then started to realize we were likely not getting back on snow for a while. Which for me, was actually very beneficial. I didn’t exactly have the season that I wanted. I would show results in spurts throughout the season last year. I didn’t have the continual progression that I was aiming for last year and getting some time off snow to reset and really hone and attack my weaknesses was one of the best things for me. I haven’t thrived in doing the off snow activities such as heavy training, that I don’t enjoy as much, and I haven’t had to because I have always had races to go to. So, having no choice but to dive into those things was truly a blessing in disguise for me. I got a rack and made a little home gym since the training center was closed and I went to work in the gym every day.
S - Did this shift in mindset and added strength revitalize your passion for racing?
R - Absolutely. I think I always had a mindset of I love ski racing. I don’t do this to be in the gym, I do this to be on the hill enjoying my passion. However, I realized over the past few years, especially over the summer I do that training off the slope, so I can continue to live my passion. I have really accepted it as part of the process and that I need to do this so I can have more fun out there. Up until getting on snow this summer at Copper and Mt. Hood it has been the longest time I have taken off snow since I started skiing to be honest. I always have passion for skiing but missing it and being off snow for that long, really made me realize why I do it and making the most of every opportunity I have on snow.
S - When you got back on snow at Copper over three months later, what was it like being back with everyone and how did it feel to be back on skis? Was there a little rust to scrape off so to speak?
R - Definitely. We were all looking at each other the first day or two and we were kind of like, ‘oh no, did we forget how to ski?’ It was a long enough gap that we didn’t have as much of that innate sensation that we typically do. It was a tough few days. Like me, almost everyone hadn’t taken that much time off snow except for an injury perhaps. It was a seriously overwhelming feeling of gratitude. The skiing was pretty incredible to be honest. For looking all over trying to lock down a place where we could ski safely, and having it be in my back yard was pretty special.
S - During that time, how were you spending your time? Did you learn any new hobbies? How did you slow down and readdress your mindset?
I was dipping my toes into a ton of different things. I was learning more about video editing, learning how to bake bread like so many others, I was reading a ton to try and better my mindset and leadership skills. I was playing a few video games to checkout a little as well hahaha.
S - When you went out to Mt. Hood last month to train, how was that experience? Were there major differences from previous years?
We went out and we were staying in a little house in the woods 20 minutes from the hill. It was pretty cool, we had no wifi no tv and it was incredible to be out in the wilderness. Training was awesome and we had really good conditions. It was my first training camp back with the World Cup crew and we all appreciated being back with the crew that you spend all winter with. I entered that camp as a more mature approach and taking all the things I was learning over the previous few months of down time and how I address any given training day and really maximizing it. I feel that I made some pretty huge strides in only about 2 weeks. Typically, I’m the type to treat every training run like a race run and there is value to that but right now I’m slowing down a little and hone in on my weaknesses and really improve on them. I felt I was going out and treating it pretty systematically. Sometimes as a racer it can feel like plugging holes in a leaky bathtub. You go out and think oh my shoulders weren’t perfectly squared up or my inside hip. You plug your finger on one little mistake and another finger comes off. My focus was to really make sure I’m doing this really systematically and when I fix something I fix it and I don’t go on and improve something else until I have really honed in on it. I think I made some real leaps and took some strides to improve during that camp. We had a lot of fun off hill as well. We went mt. biking and played soccer and did all the team stuff again as well.
S - Were there any hesitations going into the camp and what were some of the precautionary measures you have been taking during all of this?
R - There were without a doubt some unknowns and we want to make sure we are doing it right. Nobody really knows how much time we are going to have on snow this summer and nobody wanted to be the person to screw that up. We were incredibly diligent. We have a ton of protocols. We are giving our temperatures and health check updates twice a day. We are making sure to keep our distance when cooking and inside. We are completely isolating as a team. We won’t ride up the chair with other teams, we won’t hang out with other teams in town. We are doing everything we can to limit our risk and the risk of anyone around us. Everyone took it very seriously and we executed a solid plan. Currently at the training center we are getting tested all the time.
S - Shifting to sustainability we know this is an initiative you care about. Can you talk about what you have been working on to be more sustainable?
R - I try to give away as much gear at the end of the season. I try to cut down on travel as much as I can, which is obviously tough with the nature of the sport we are in. In Park City I ride my bike as much as possible. I park my car for the 3-4 months while I’m there. You know, that is the minimum we should all be doing. The biggest way I feel that I can impact in my position at the moment is in raising awareness. I try to convey this message to my following whenever I can.
I have done some work in the past donating race checks to POW and they do a really good job advocating. In me doing that I think it sets a statement in binging awareness. I know that my contributions haven’t been as big as I would like as far as donating but hopefully it is the statement that also makes an impact. I have been working with the SOS program in the past and I’m excited to work with them in a higher capacity this season.
A few years back I was considering retiring and it wasn’t results based or anything. I felt guilty. I have always wanted to do something with my life that does good and I wasn’t sure how ski racing accomplishes that for me. I felt I wasn’t adding any true good into the world. And to me I realized that the gift that has been given to me through ski racing has given me the platform to advocate for things I believe in. It is a blessing for me to continue to establish and audience to advocate for change in particular areas. I make sure I do what I can to work with the programs to give back. On top of that, I’m starting a foundation that you will hear about soon.
S - How do you stay in touch with your fan base?
R - DM’s are always open. Send me a message on Instagram. Any athlete that needs advice etc, I’m happy to respond when I can.
S - What are some of your favorite Spyder pieces?
R - I love the Legacy sweater. I wear it all the time. Those things are so sweet. They bring me back to every photo I see of my mom and dad racing back in the day. It’s like the perfect amount of retro and I wear that thing nonstop.
S - Thank you so much for taking the time with us today River. We are all super excited to see how your season unfolds!