Maiden World Cup victory for American Alice McKennis in St. Anton downhill.
St. Anton, Austria – All the ingredients for an amazing downhill were present in St Anton today. The sky finally cleared up, the wind on top dropped and the freshly-fallen snow allowed the ladies to race on a much less bumpy slope as for the training two days ago. Since it only stopped snowing late during the night, the decision was made to shorten the course in order to reduce the amount of work needed to get the piste prepared on time. As usual in Austria, a massive crowd came to cheer for the racers.
23-year-old American Alice McKennis made the most of these great conditions and snatched her maiden World Cup victory in today’s downhill, recording a time of 1:14.62, only 0.07 seconds ahead of Daniela Merighetti. Rounding out the podium, Anna Fenninger proved again to be successful in front of a home crowd and finished 3rd, 0.16 behind today’s winner.
With a 7th place being her personal best in her World Cup career, Alice McKennis admitted it was as if a dream came true. “I’m extremely happy right now. It’s something I thought about growing up and now it’s finally there. It is obviously very special”, said the today’s winner. “I was surprised to be up front as I’m known more as a glider. Doing so good on a technical track is really amazing. I guess it was a matter of dealing with the soft snow in the bottom part of the course.”
The young skier from Colorado is now also riding the wave of success that has followed the American team so far this season. She becomes the 5th American to win an Audi FIS Alpine World Cup this season (Vonn, Shiffrin, McKennis, Ligety, Nyman)! “Being in such a strong team is pretty inspiring. We all work together and help each other. Having Lindsey around is a great motivation. It is really good to have her as a benchmark during our training sessions. This pushes us all the ski super fast”, concluded Alice McKennis.
Daniela Merighetti and Anna Fenninger, respectively 2nd an 3rd, proved they were not in the top 3 of the training by chance. Both felt very comfortable on the slope again.
“The snow was very different from the training day. It was definitely softer. I really enjoyed racing on this slope. It gives a lot of confidence for the next downhill in Cortina d’Ampezzo next week. I’m in a good shape and hope to ski as fast in front of the Italians fans”, said the Daniela Merighetti.
Anna Fenninger keeps the momentum going after winning her second World Cup victory just before New Year in Semmering. She got her second downhill podium in her career. “I’m really happy with today’s result. I was struggling last year to get good results in downhill. I never did better than a 10th place. It was fun to ski here and I can’t wait to race in the Super G tomorrow”, said the Austrian athlete.
Not far behind the heroes of the day, Tina Maze got her best downhill result of the season, finishing 4th. She increases one more time her lead in the overall rankings. Coming back after a break, Lindsey Vonn finished 6th, a good way to regain the self confidence she lost after Val d’Isère.
Tomorrow’s Super G will bring others great stories. So stay tuned!