Alpine skiing: McKennis leaves Vonn chasing shadows in St Anton

Sat Jan 12, 2013 9:28am EST
 
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By Patrick Lang

ST ANTON, Austria (Reuters) - Alice McKennis underlined the depth of American alpine skiing as she eclipsed her more celebrated compatriot Lyndsey Vonn to claim her maiden World Cup downhill victory in St Anton on Saturday.

While all eyes were on Vonn who was making her comeback following a three-week break, McKennis stole the show in one minute and 14.62 seconds.

The Colorado skier, 23, was the fourth American downhill specialist on a women's World Cup podium this season after Vonn, Stacey Cook and Leanne Smith while youngster Mikaela Shiffrin emerged as the new slalom sensation this winter.

"It hasn't sunk in yet. I cannot really understand what's happening. It's a total surprise. I never thought I could win such a difficult downhill, I was aiming at a top 10 finish," a jubilant McKennis told reporters.

McKennis made the best of the peculiar conditions - the start was brought down to the Super-G start after fresh snow fell overnight, forcing organisers to work hard on the piste for the race to go ahead.

The American's previous best World Cup result had been seventh in Schladming last season.

"The key was probably the early start number and the smooth course. Still this is totally beyond my imagination," she added.

In the finish area, she was cheered on by Vonn, back from taking time off to deal with health and personal problems.   Continued...

 
Alice McKennis from the U.S. speeds down the slope during the Alpine Skiing World Cup women's downhill ski race in St. Anton, January 12, 2013. REUTERS/ Dominic Ebenbichler