JEONGSEON, South Korea — Jared Goldberg’s journey to the top of Mount Gariwang, from which he started in the Olympic Alpine combined event on Tuesday, began at Killington Resort in Vermont.
His parents first met there. It was also the first place he clicked into skis.
“I’ve got some really funny pictures of him,” Goldberg’s father, Don, said, adding that his son’s interest in the sport was apparent right away.
“He loved it. He was hooked, I think, from the very beginning,” Don said.
The Goldbergs left New England a long time ago. Jared was born in Boston and the family lived in Massachusetts during his early years before moving west. They settled in Utah, where Don owns a temporary staffing company for computer consultants and Jared developed into one of the top speed racers on the US Ski Team.
Goldberg finished Tuesday’s combined in 36th place after missing a gate in the afternoon slalom, but was ninth after the morning downhill, less than a second behind the leader.
“I was risking a lot. Today was very favorable for the slalom guys. Most of the top 10 are slalom skiers, so I was just trying to go as hard as I could and mostly in control, but then in the middle I couldn’t see very much because the wind was swirling there,” Goldberg said.
But there were some takeaways from the event, which was won by Austria’s Marcel Hirscher. Goldberg again was fast in the downhill portion — he also posted fast times in training runs here — and is eager for Thursday’s Olympic downhill.
“I had a good downhill run and I’m really happy with that. It wasn’t the cleanest run, but there’s things that I can clean up for the downhill race, so I think it was like another good training run down it, and that was a positive for sure,” Goldberg said.
Goldberg now represents one of the best chances to pull off another American surprise in the Winter Olympics. He has never hit the podium in a World Cup, but the 26-year-old has been on the rise.
In his early days on the slopes, he both skied and snowboarded, and began racing in both.
“He was beating people by a lot. He just had this aptitude to find the fall line, and he really liked that,” Don Goldberg said.
Jared still goes snowboarding occasionally, Don said, and he also loves to powder ski. Really, anything on the slopes suits him.
“That’s how his passion is. He just loves skiing, he loves doing [ski racing], he loves to powder ski, he loves to ski any place he can. The powder skis are the first thing he actually packs on a trip like this,” Don said.
Goldberg’s love of skiing was apparent Tuesday when, after missing a gate halfway through the slalom, he trudged back uphill to complete the turn and then finish the course so he would be listed as an official finisher, no matter how far back, instead having a DNF designation by his name.
“I always like to hike, if things go wrong, and get my money’s worth for coming out here,” Goldberg said. “I like to ski, so I want to ski down it. I inspected it, so might as well see what it ran like.”
Don Goldberg met Jared’s mother, Annette, at Killington and put Jared on skis there at around the age of 3. Killington remains a special place for him.
“Annette was a nurse, she lived locally, and I would come up on weekends and I was a part-time ski instructor and so was she, and that’s how we kind of met over the years. And I have a lot of great friends from there, it’s a really close connection,” Don said.
This is Jared’s second Olympics — he finished 19th in the super combined and 11th in the giant slalom in Sochi in 2014.
“Last time he was 22 years old, very young, really didn’t know what was going on. He was getting his feet wet,” Don Goldberg said.
This time, Don thinks the experience could pay off.
“Two days from now could be really good,” he said.Matt Pepin can be reached at email@example.com.