Athlete spotlight: Alice McKennis
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
The World Cup season has come to an end, and I am now back in the best of part of the world: Colorado!
I finished up last week with a career-best, seventh-place finish in downhill at the World Cup finals in the ski racing mecca of Schladming, Austria. Austrians love ski racing more than folks from New England love the Red Sox. No joke: I had a few clingers in the finish area, and I’m not even that popular. I think part of the problem is that whenever a slightly intoxicated Austrian ski racing fan sees me in a U.S. Ski Team jacket, they immediately assume I am Lindsey Vonn or Julia Mancuso. Nope, not really. Don’t look like either of them actually.
I will say, though, that I really appreciate a good, loud and inebriated crowd at any ski race. It is pretty cool that people in Europe come out to watch ski racing; it’s awesome to know that people are still interested and supportive of the sport. As long as they don’t touch me, I’m generally OK with a few clingers. I might have gotten into an altercation with one fan – I didn’t appreciate him grabbing the back of my shirt and hauling me back to get a photo and autograph – but let’s just say that he didn’t get either one.
Placing seventh was a great way to finish up the World Cup season. I am now ranked 20th in the world in downhill, which is the best I have ever been ranked. A month ago, I never would have imagined that this season would actually turn out OK, but it goes to show that anything can happen and it only takes one run or one day to turn things around. It comes down to making that conscious decision to be better and do better. I decided in Sochi, Russia, last month that I would not let another opportunity pass me by, and that I was much better than I was letting myself be. Since then, I now have the confidence I had before I was injured and know that I might actually be OK at skiing and don’t need to start looking in the classifieds for a new profession.
I also need to mention that the American women won the Nations Cup in downhill by 636 points over Austria. We are officially the fastest group of women ski racers in the world. I don’t care who you are, that is cool. I’m proud to be part of that accomplishment, and also so lucky to get to ski and train with such an incredible group of skiers.
Although I am looking forward to some spring skiing, I will admit that I am not ready for winter to be over. I want to keep skiing and racing for weeks and weeks, but I’m no weatherman so I guess it is out of my hands. Oh well, I guess for now I will enjoy the spring snow until it is gone. Then, I’ll start training for another season on the World Cup.
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Under bluebird skies with 160 acres under their boots, hundreds of skiers and snowboarders took to Aspen Mountain for opening day Wednesday.