Injury again brings end to World Cup ski season for Alice McKennis-Duran
Alice McKennis-Duran got in one official World Cup start this season before injury once again showed its cruel face. The New Castle-raised ski racer who previously trained with the Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club announced Wednesday her season was likely over following a crash in last week’s season-opening World Cup downhill in Val d’Isère, France.
According to a U.S. Ski & Snowboard news release, McKennis-Duran will be out 8-10 weeks after sustaining a fractured right ankle, which required surgery. The operation was performed by the Steadman Clinic in Vail, near where she currently lives.
“It’s crushing to be here yet again, on the sidelines waiting out another season before it really even got started,” McKennis-Duran wrote on her Facebook page. “I am devastated and so very sad that after all my hard work and perseverance I’m injured once again. It’s hard to make much sense of it all … on the other hand it could have been much worse! My crash was by far one of my most violent I’ve had and I will feel battered for weeks to come I’m sure.”
McKennis-Duran had started the season with lots of promise. She got it underway in November at the U.S. national championships at Copper Mountain, which had been delayed from the spring because of the coronavirus pandemic. She finished third in the Nov. 19 downhill before winning the super-G the next day.
Her speed stayed with her when she made it to Val d’Isère, where she had the fastest time in the first of two training runs, finishing 11th in the other. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to make it to the finish line during the actual Dec. 18 race.
“It’s crushing mentally and emotionally to be back in this place … to feel yet again that I was (on) the verge of doing great things, and to have it all slip through my fingers once again,” McKennis-Duran wrote on Instagram. “There are many people out there that have overcome worse things in all walks of life, and continue to thrive. They are my inspiration! I believe I will have the opportunity to thrive again it will just take some time.”
McKennis-Duran, 31, is among the most experienced when it comes to dealing with injury. According to her Instagram post, she’s had surgery in nine of her 12 years on the World Cup, including five season-ending injuries.
Her career highlight is arguably her surprising fifth-place finish in the 2018 Olympic downhill in South Korea. However, injury caused her to miss the entire 2018-19 ski season but she did find moderate success in the COVID-shortened 2019-2020 season, where she finished 28th in the downhill standings and 33rd in super-G.
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In a move unusual in today’s West, private land in the Crystal Valley opened in July to free public use by mountain bikers, hikers and trail runners. Coal Basin Ranch opened a 5-mile trail network in mid-July that is open to the public at no cost.