AVSC racer headed to Europe after top-15 NorAm finish | AspenTimes.com

AVSC racer headed to Europe after top-15 NorAm finish

Alice McKennis of the Aspen Valley Ski Club finished 14th overall and was the fifth best American woman at a NorAm Cup super G on Dec. 13 in Panorama, B.C. (Courtesy Aspen Valley Ski Club)

Watch out, Lindsey Kildow: 16-year-old Alice McKennis might be the next great World Cup ski racer from Colorado.The Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club product finished 14th in a NorAm super G on Dec. 13 in Panorama, British Columbia – a result that led to an invitation from the ski team’s national development system to compete and train in Europe for two weeks.McKennis will depart Jan. 6 to compete in FIS B races, a step below the Europa Cup. The trip is specifically for racers on track for the national team.

FIS B races are comparable to those at the NorAm level, said Casey Puckett, McKennis’ coach at AVSC. On paper, the NorAm Cup and the Europa Cup are in the same classification, but the talent pool is much deeper in Europe, Puckett said.”It’s great because you’re exposed to the European racing system, which is a lot deeper than the U.S. and the Canadian system,” Puckett said. “Any FIS race in Europe is a lot deeper than any FIS race in the U.S.”The 14th-place finish in Panorama was the fifth-best for an American racer, and the best result for an American not on the U.S. Ski Team. McKennis finished in 1 minute, 24.69 seconds – 2.77 seconds behind winner Megan McJames, a member of the C team.The day before, in another super G, McKennis was on track for a top-10 finish but blew out on the bottom half of the course. The disappointment from failing to reach the finish line was motivation for the next day, Puckett said.

“She was top-10 on the top split, then she made a mistake on the bottom,” Puckett said. “It probably would have been an even better result.”McKennis is the only member from USSA’s Rocky Mountain Division to earn a spot on the NDS trip. The other racers hail from California and Utah in the Western Division, or from the Eastern Division. She’s also the youngest skier to receive an invitation. Puckett said that fact alone illustrates that USSA officials expect big things from McKennis in the future.

“I don’t want to jump to any conclusions,” Puckett said. “If you were a betting man, you’d say she’d be on the ski team within the next year or two years. Of course, that’s always subject to all kinds of variables. Anything can happen. You can get injured, or whatever.”What I can say is that she is skiing well, she definitely has been identified by the U.S. Ski Team as one of their up and comers and being invited on this trip sort of confirms this.”Katie Monahan, who retired from the World Cup in 2003 because of injury, is the most recent female ski racer from Aspen to make the U.S. Ski Team. Monahan raced in two Olympics and won two U.S. Championships. Jake Zamansky, a C team member, is the only Aspen native currently on the U.S. Ski Team.Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is npeterson@aspentimes.com.

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