AVSC alum Alice McKennis wins U.S. super-G title
CARRABASSETT VALLEY, Maine — Aspen Valley Ski Club alum Alice McKennis of Glenwood Springs is a national champion.
McKennis won the women’s super-G Wednesday at the U.S. Alpine Ski Championships at Sugarloaf — her first national championship.
The U.S. victory capped a comeback season for the the AVSC product.
And she overcame what she thought was a costly bobble.
She skied through the course in 1 minute, 22.48 seconds to hold off Valerie Grenier of Canada by 0.10 seconds.
American Jacqueline Wiles wound up third.
“This is totally unexpected,” McKennis said. “I certainly never thought I’d win. I really didn’t think a win was in the cards for me, just because my super-G is still improving.”
The 25-year-old McKennis returned to the World Cup circuit this season after a crash in March 2013 shattered the top of her shinbone near her knee into 30 pieces.
McKennis needed 11 screws and a metal plate to stabilize her leg. She tried to make it back in time for the 2014 Sochi Olympics — even trained with Lindsey Vonn — but it didn’t work out.
McKennis’ best World Cup finish this season was 11th during a downhill race in Italy on Jan. 18.
“It was a solid year. Just wish it was a little bit better, maybe more top-10 finishes,” McKennis said. “But I feel like my skiing is headed in the right direction. I’m pretty happy.”
Missing from the field was Vonn, who will only serve as a forerunner for the giant slalom race later in the week. It’s been a grinding season for Vonn as she returned from a knee injury.
She captured the World Cup downhill and super-G titles this season, along with becoming the most decorated female ski racer in history.
Julia Mancuso also skipped nationals to rest a sore hip.
Now, McKennis will take a break as she trades her ski poles for a paddle. She’s going on a nine-day rafting trip through the Grand Canyon.
“It’s going to be really cool,” McKennis said.
Later in the same day McKennis won her national title, 19-year-old Drew Duffy turned in a speedy and surprising run from a late starting position to win the men’s super-G.
Duffy, who is from Warren, Vermont, stole the show against a field that included an Olympic medalist and World Cup winners.
Starting 30th, Duffy had a run he described as a “little out of control” to finish in 1 minute, 19.73 seconds. He eclipsed American Steven Nyman by 0.04 seconds, while Travis Ganong was third.
“Pretty cool,” said Duffy.“Pretty amazing.”
For Duffy, the win brings a big boost in confidence. He hasn’t competed on the World Cup circuit, but he held off some U.S. Ski Team veterans such as Nyman, who won a World Cup race in Italy in December, and Ganong, the silver-medal winner in the downhill last month at the world championships in Beaver Creek.
Two-time Olympic super-G medalist Andrew Weibrecht finished seventh, while Tim Jitloff slid into fourth with Duffy’s finish.
“Just seeing Steve and Travis down here, I think they were just as shocked as I was,” Duffy said.
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