Ski Racing » Stories http://skiracing.com Thu, 02 Oct 2014 14:08:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 ‘Girl on Fire’ sponsorship returns for second year http://skiracing.com/stories/girl-on-fire-sponsorship-returns-for-second-year/ http://skiracing.com/stories/girl-on-fire-sponsorship-returns-for-second-year/#comments Thu, 02 Oct 2014 14:04:19 +0000 SR Staff http://skiracing.com/?post_type=stories&p=31768 Keely’s Camp for Girls and Blizzard Tecnica are excited to announce the second annual “Girl On Fire” sponsorship. The purpose of the sponsorship is to provide equipment and training support for two motivated and committed females in skiing.

Two winners will be chosen (1 race and 1 freeride) to receive a Blizzard Tecnica sponsorship and free entry into one of Keely’s Race or Freeride Camps.

Contest Dates: Oct. 1, 2014 through Oct. 31, 2014

Camp locations: Mt. Hood, Ore. – Alta, Utah — Big Sky, Mont.

Keely’s Camp for Girls was founded by Blizzard Tecnica athlete and U.S. Ski Team alumna Keely Kelleher, whose mission is to empower, inspire, educate, and connect the next generation of girls in skiing.

The chosen “Girl on Fire” will be the athlete who best displays commitment characteristics vital for success on and off the hill.

“Being a ‘Girl on Fire’ is not just about if you can go the biggest. It’s about having heart and being passionate everyday,” said 2013-14 freeride sponsorship recipient Jodie Byron. “It’s an honor to have won and it elevated my confidence as a skier and a person.”

We understand that skiing is an expensive sport, and our hope is to reduce the costs involved with skiing and to ensure every deserving skier the opportunity to fulfill her passion and put her on the path to moving mountains.

Apply for the “Girl On Fire” sponsorship HERE.

GIRLONFIRE1

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Kueng aims for championship medal in 2015 http://skiracing.com/stories/kueng-aims-for-championship-medal-in-2015/ http://skiracing.com/stories/kueng-aims-for-championship-medal-in-2015/#comments Thu, 02 Oct 2014 13:16:21 +0000 SR Staff http://skiracing.com/?post_type=stories&p=31766 Patrick Kueng on his way to his first World Cup SG victory in 2013. GEPA/Wolfgang Grebien

Patrick Kueng on his way to his first World Cup SG victory in 2013. GEPA/Wolfgang Grebien

Swiss speed specialist Patrick Kueng scored his first World Cup win in the super G at Beaver Creek last December. Another win followed on home snow at the Lauberhorn downhill in Wengen in January. He finished the season in third place in the super G World Cup standings but has yet to clinch a medal at a major event. After a few attempts at title events in previous years, Kueng feels he has some unfinished business and is very much looking forward to Vail-Beaver Creek 2015.

Patrick, how has your training season been?

Overall very good. In the early summer, I was working hard on my fitness and am happy that I’ve stayed healthy and have had no problems or pain in my knees or back. That makes me feel positive about my dryland prep. We started skiing in Zermatt before we travelled to South America. Down there, it was good snow but unfortunately the weather did not cooperate: we had lots of wind, rain, and snowfall. The good news is that I’m feeling great whenever we’re able to ski. I still need to work on my consistency, but overall I am very happy with my training so far.

The start of the speed season is in two months in Lake Louise, followed by the dress rehearsal on the Birds of Prey. What are you now working on to be ready?

Given that I finished third in the super G season standings last year, the plan is to make sure I reach that same high level from the start of the season and then hopefully can even up the ante! My goal is to ski well all season long. To compete for the World Cup globes in the speed events, however, everything must fit together better than well. The start is very important, I want to be skiing on par with the best in Lake Louise and at the final test event in Beaver Creek, and that is my focus right now.

After the disappointment at the Sochi Games, how do you view the World Champs in Vail-Beaver Creek 2015?

I clearly have some unfinished business at title events. In Garmisch in 2011 I was ill; then in Schladming in 2013, I was having some problems; and in Sochi last year, despite being in good shape, the results did not come.

Beaver Creek is a special place for me. I won my first World Cup race there last December and am looking forward to going back. It is a place I always like to return to. All the prerequisites for skiing fast are there. However, title events are always special, and absolutely everything must come together for a perfect race on D-Day. 

How do you like racing in Beaver Creek?

The courses there are always perfect. I think there is no other venue where the courses are in such a great shape. It is always fantastic to race there.

At the World Champs, I gather there will be even bigger jumps and it will be even more challenging but then I am a downhiller so that is what we like. 

You are now seen as the leader on the Swiss men’s speed team. Do you feel any pressure?

I don’t feel pressure, in training surely not. If all goes well in the beginning of the season, there will be no pressure then either. If the results aren’t there, it is a different story. Right now I just keep doing my thing, executing what I had planned. By now, I have seen the highs and lows of ski racing, and I’m old and experienced enough to deal with any pressure. And I hope that my teammates, too, will be able to show what they can this season. As for myself, I want to deliver top performances, am feeling good, and looking forward to the season.

 You won the prestigious race on the Lauberhorn in Wengen last year. Would you swap that victory for a World Championships medal?

Winning the Lauberhorn in Wengen or the Hahnenkamm in Kitzbuehel has an equally high importance for a ski racer than winning a medal at a title event. I would not swap my win in Wengen for a medal anywhere. But I think at this age, I can still win many races and a medal at the World Championships would surely not be a bad thing.

Release courtesy of the Organizing Committee of Vail-Beaver Creek 2015

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Vonn is back, plans to ski through 2018 http://skiracing.com/stories/vonn-is-back-plans-to-ski-through-2018/ http://skiracing.com/stories/vonn-is-back-plans-to-ski-through-2018/#comments Wed, 01 Oct 2014 14:54:50 +0000 Jessica Kelley http://skiracing.com/?post_type=stories&p=31757 Lindsey Vonn training in Soelden in Oct. 2013. GEPA/Andreas Pranter

Lindsey Vonn training in Soelden in Oct. 2013. GEPA/Andreas Pranter

Lindsey Vonn clicked into her skis today on the Rettenbach Glacier in Soelden, Austria for the first time since skiing off course in a World Cup downhill race in Val d’Isere, France on Dec. 21, 2013. According to USSA Alpine Director Patrick Riml, everything went as planned during her initial return to snow, which is being overseen by U.S. Ski Team assistant coach Pascal Hasler.

“The conditions in Soelden are very good, but the visibility was not so easy today,” Riml said. “Still, I am told that things went well.”

Vonn underwent surgery in January to repair her ACL that she re-injured in a crash during training on Nov. 19, 2013 at Copper Mountain, Colo. After a fifth-place finish in a super G at Lake Louise, she appeared well on her way to staging a successful comeback to defend her Olympic gold medal at the Sochi Olympics. Vonn then aggravated the injury in Val d’Isere when her knee buckled landing off of a jump, making the instability of the joint all the more apparent.

The Olympic gold medalist and four-time overall champion originally injured her knee in a horrific crash at the World Championships super G in Schladming, Austria in 2013, tearing her ACL, MCL, and fracturing her tibial plateau. She ambitiously returned to snow on Aug. 31 of that year in Portillo, Chile and appeared strong and healthy until the crash in Copper pushed back her return. She ultimately decided to undergo surgery to repair her already reconstructed ACL.

Vonn has taken a more conservative approach in her recovery this time around and recently was given the green light to return to snow by renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews, after 10 months away from snow. Fans may recall that this time last year, Vonn was flirting with the idea of possibly racing in the Soelden opener, but her return to competition this time around will be more steady and intentional.

Vonn with Dr. Andrews. Facebook

Vonn with Dr. James Andrews. Facebook

“Great checkup today. Knee looks great and I’m cleared to ski!” posted a smiling Vonn on Instagram with Andrews. “Thanks Dr. Andrews and Lindsay Winninger for fixing my knee and getting me back out there :).”

Her approach on snow will follow a similar path to her dryland training, and she will continue to be careful and conservative with her progression because of additional damage to both the medial and lateral meniscus in her knee with the second injury.

“I won’t be skiing gates for a while this time, and I’m not going to be excited about that,” Vonn said with a laugh in a recent interview with Bill Pennington of The New York Times. “That’s not my nature to wait, but it’s the best thing for my knee.”

Vonn hopes to be ready to race by the time the Lake Louise World Cup speed races roll in Dec. 5-7. It is a track that has seen her come away with 14 victories over the course of her career.

“I feel like that’s enough time to get ready,” Vonn told The New York Times. “But you never know. If I’m not ready, I can back off. I don’t have to push myself into anything. I have time.”

Riml agrees that Vonn should only return to racing once she is fully ready.

“There is no need to hurry,” he added, indicating that she wanted to start where she has had some of her greatest results.”If she is ready, fine, but if not, better she wait.”

While she may be forced to take things easy in the early stages of her comeback, Vonn is not lacking self-confidence in her abilities to return strong. She is taking a very realistic approach to the season.

“A lot of people don’t think I will be back,” Vonn told the newspaper. “That’s fine. The other girls are probably feeling pretty comfortable without me out there. When I do come back, I think they’ll see that they can’t be comfortable anymore.

“I’d like to get four more victories this year and hopefully some medals in the world championships, especially since they’re going to be in my hometown of Vail,” Vonn said. “But I don’t have anything to prove right now. I have four years to break those records. If that means going slower this year to be ready next year, that’s what I’m going to do.”

Vonn, at 59 World Cup victories, is three wins shy of tying the women’s World Cup record of 62 wins held by Austrian Annemarie Moser-Proell and has plans to ski through the next Olympics in 2018 in PyeongChang, South Korea.

“I need to have another chance to defend my Olympic gold medal in the downhill,” Vonn acknowledged to The New York Times. “I knew that in January as soon as I mentally accepted that I couldn’t race in the Sochi Olympics. I want another chance to compete.”

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Neureuther may miss season opener in Soelden http://skiracing.com/stories/neureuther-may-miss-season-opener-in-soelden/ http://skiracing.com/stories/neureuther-may-miss-season-opener-in-soelden/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 14:52:13 +0000 SR Staff http://skiracing.com/?post_type=stories&p=31734 Felix Neureuther at the 2013 Soelden opener. GEPA/Christian Walgram

Felix Neureuther at the 2013 Soelden opener. GEPA/Christian Walgram

The World Cup season opener in Soelden, Austria on Oct. 25 may be missing Germany’s best technical skier. Felix Neureuther has been forced to take a multi-week training break due to back pain and may skip the first race of the 2014-15 season if time is not on his side.

Neureuther had planned to prepare for the opener with ramped up training in the coming weeks, but the 30-year-old’s plans have been put on hold due to a nagging injury.

“The back has always given me problems in recent years,” said Neureuther. “In the last few weeks I was able to train. … [now] I will follow the advice of the doctors, take a break and undergo intensive physiotherapy treatment.”

His start in Soelden is still a possibility, but not one for which he is willing to take any risks in order to fulfill. He has never qualified for a second run on the glacier and typically finds greater success in GS as the season takes form.

“Of course my goal is to start in the World Cup season opener on the Rettenbach,” he said. “On the condition, however, that I am pain free and fit to go.”

Germany’s head men’s coach Mathias Berthold is also focused on Neureuther’s full recovery.

“For Felix, it is important now to focus on the therapeutic measures,” said Berthold. “He is well looked after medically, and if the predictions of the doctors are confirmed, he will return to training soon.”

Release courtesy of DSV

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National Nordic Foundation launches D25 on Oct. 1 http://skiracing.com/stories/national-nordic-foundation-launches-d25-on-oct-1/ http://skiracing.com/stories/national-nordic-foundation-launches-d25-on-oct-1/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 14:13:01 +0000 SR Staff http://skiracing.com/?post_type=stories&p=31737 Rosie Frankowski depended on D25 funds to make it to her first international races in Europe.

Rosie Frankowski depended on D25 funds to make it to her first international races in Europe.

Autumn has officially begun, and with it comes cooler temperatures, changing landscapes and slew of signs that winter is approaching. Fall also brings big months in the year for ski racing: fundraising season. The National Nordic Foundation (NNF) will launch a renewed version of its token Drive for 25 (D25), a crowdfunding campaign with the goal of taking the financial stress out of racing.

From Oct. 1 to Nov. 15, the D25 will consist of six weeks of photos, images and stories representing each level of development in the U.S. Nordic pipeline, from U18 trips to the World Cup.

“We’re interested in tying together as many disparate parts of the skiing country as possible through the NNF,” said Dave Knoop, executive director of the NNF.

“As an athlete who has spent almost his entire ski career riding the divide between being on the national team and not, funding has been one of the biggest hurdles I have had to deal with,” said Reese Hanneman, a professional athlete at Alaska Pacific University Nordic Ski Club (APUNSC). His is a common story: balancing on the bubble between domestic and world racing, knowing that making the jump to the upper echelon of racing could take as much of a financial as a physical toll.

“This is where the NNF has been so huge,” he added, “covering even just a small portion of those expenses, and the expenses of the staff that are essential to me even having a chance.”

In order to do so, the D25 will be done in less time than past years, but with more energy. “Shorter. More driven.” Public representative Andrew Gardner described the new layout, noting the focus of the campaign on the paths of its supported athletes.

“Every skier on the U.S. team with the exception of Andy Newell (who supports us regardless) received NNF funds as they were developing into the skiers they are now,” said Gardner.

Last year, the D25 raised over $516,000 for both Nordic Combined and Cross-Country development structures. The funds paid for coaching, Junior Worlds, U18 and B-team costs, supporting 44 athletes competing internationally, 237 races starts and 14 support staff. This year, with the addition of D-team funds and World Championships, the NNF hopes to do even more, for which it will completely depend on the energy of its participants.

“I think it’s important to note that the NNF started as the ski world’s equivalent of a bake sale,” said Gardner, noting how Reid Lutter began the organization selling calendars. The D25 evolved from U.S. Ski Team coaches Pete Vordenberg and Matt Whitcomb, who created the then one-day event to ask every member of the ski community to contribute $25 to support racing. It has since grown far beyond one day or one effort, but is still closely connected to and reliant upon small donations and community involvement.

USST development coach Bryan Fish at World Juniors pre-camp in Italy.

USST development coach Bryan Fish at World Juniors pre-camp in Toblach, Italy.

“Through U16 Camp, Regional Elite Camps, and National Training groups, I have met dedicated skiers of all ages, including members of the U.S. Ski Team, and hearing the stories of others is really inspirational,” said Hailey Swirbul, a junior skier and beneficiary of D25 pillar projects. “I proudly wear my NNF shirts and hats knowing that I am helping to promote such an awesome organization!”

As for the name, Gardner added, “I like to think that now the 25 in D25 stands for the number of Olympic Gold medals, World Champions and Overall winners we’re hoping to develop from the U.S. Seems like a good goal.”

One of the community members who got involved in the NNF early is Steve Fuller, of Flying Point Road photography, who has taken thousands of racing images of NNF-supported athletes and used them to connect donors to the stories fueled by NNF support. The entirety of the proceeds from his images, 100 percent, go to support the NNF.

“Skiing is a beautiful sport and deserves to be shown that way,” said Fuller, who has traveled to photograph national championships, World Juniors and World Cup races. “I hope to reflect that through my photography and give back to the sport that has given me so much.”

Fuller’s images have been used alongside the stories of supported athletes to elucidate the impact the organization has had on racing. It’s those athletes, though, that have always been at the center of the NNF and have taken the initiative to make it theirs. Through blogs, sponsorship patches and social media, the organization has given its beneficiaries a sense of ownership, setting it apart from other non-profits.

Last year, the hashtag #gonnf debuted alongside the LiveNNF site, which connects athletes through Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, creating a national team-oriented culture within an individual sport.

“Through its work to support U.S. Nordic skiing and its development into a nationwide community, NNF provides all athletes, regardless of skill or results, increased opportunities. Nordic skiing, although a small sport, is a huge community,” said Rosie Frankowski, NCAA All-American turned professional skier at APUNSC.

“This is the culture NNF helps create in the United States, a community of support, dedication and friendship. This is the culture that will bring the United States increased international success and this is the culture other countries envy us for,” added Frankowski who attributes her success in skiing to the support she received from the D25 funds, which made it possible for her to travel to her first U23 World Championships in Val di Fiemme, Italy last January.

Donations will be taken for the D25 starting Oct. 1 here

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Vonn takes on ambassador role for Lillehammer 2016 YOG http://skiracing.com/stories/vonn-takes-on-ambassador-role-for-lillehammer-2016-yog/ http://skiracing.com/stories/vonn-takes-on-ambassador-role-for-lillehammer-2016-yog/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 05:52:52 +0000 SR Staff http://skiracing.com/?post_type=stories&p=31753 Lindsey Vonn as an Ambassador at the 2012 Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck. GEPA/Manfred Hassl

Lindsey Vonn as an Ambassador at the 2012 Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck. GEPA/Manfred Hassl

With 500 days to go until the second Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced today that Olympic champion Lindsey Vonn will reprise her role as Ambassador for the Games, which will take place in February 2016.

The American alpine skier has a wealth of experience to share with the young athletes who will participate in Lillehammer: from winning the downhill gold at Vancouver 2010 and four overall World Cup victories to the challenges of dealing with injuries and balancing the pressures of international competition. In her role as Ambassador, Vonn will reach not only the next generation of elite athletes, but also many other young people around the world to encourage them to get active and enjoy the benefits of sport and the learning experiences integrated throughout the Youth Olympic Games.

As the first Ambassador for the inaugural Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck in 2012, Vonn is once again committed to supporting the event along with fellow alpine skier Kjetil Jansrud, the Norwegian Olympic super G champion who was announced as an Ambassador for Lillehammer 2016 earlier this year.

“It is amazing to be back for more Youth Olympic action! Innsbruck 2012 was such an inspirational event, not just to the young athletes there, but also for the kids watching,” Vonn said. “It showcases, in a totally unique way, how much fun and excitement there is in winter sports. Lillehammer with its Olympic history and famous venues will provide the best experience for the athletes on and off the field of play – I am very excited to be a part of it.”

The IOC chooses Ambassadors for each edition of the Youth Olympic Games. Sporting legends such as Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, Yao Ming and Michelle Wie, to name a few, have supported this campaign that is shared with the 42 million fans the IOC has on its various social media channels.

The second edition of the Winter Youth Olympic Games will take place in Lillehammer Feb. 12-21, 2016. The program will feature the seven sports on the Olympic program plus some new editions, including team ski-snowboard cross and monobob. Off the field of play, athletes will be encouraged to take part in unique activities and workshops, including sessions on healthy eating, injury prevention, the dangers of doping and illegal betting, careers in sport and media training. All existing venues will be used from the legacy of the Lillehammer 1994 Olympic Winter Games.

Release courtesy of FIS

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Hendrickson returns to the podium http://skiracing.com/stories/hendrickson-returns-to-the-podium/ http://skiracing.com/stories/hendrickson-returns-to-the-podium/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 13:25:50 +0000 SR Staff http://skiracing.com/?post_type=stories&p=31741 Sarah Hendrickson at the 2012 Oslo World Cup. GEPA/Mario Kneisl

Sarah Hendrickson at the 2012 Oslo World Cup. GEPA/Mario Kneisl

TRONDHEIM, Norway — Ski jumping world champion Sarah Hendrickson of Park City, Utah returned to competition this past weekend, soaring to a pair of second-place finishes behind World Cup champion Sara Takanashi in a FIS Continental Cup event held in Trondheim.

“I am really content with the weekend and with my second-place podium finish. Although I was surprised at how nervous I was going into Saturday — and it showed with my technique—I was able to pull it together for some decent jumps,” said Hendrickson. “My next challenge is to catch up to Sara. But I am aware of some things I that must change to get there.”

The results were Hendrickson’s first international podiums in over a year since finishing second in a FIS Grand Prix event in France just prior to her August 2013 training accident in Germany where she sustained a torn ACL. She came back to make the Olympic Team and jump in the Sochi debut, before taking time off for more rehabilitation. Trondheim was her first competitive event after training this summer at the Utah Olympic Park and USSA Center of Excellence.

“All in all, I cannot explain how excited I am to be back after this long year of rehab! I’m so thankful to be healthy again and am excited for the World Cup competitions. Thanks to my coaches and sponsors for ‘having my back’ throughout this journey,” added Hendrickson.

American Nita Englund (Steamboat Springs, Colo.) continued her strong summer, finishing sixth and ninth. Tara Geraghty-Moats (Fairlee, Vt.) also had a strong weekend with a pair of 11th places.

The women will return to the USA for the U.S. Ski Jumping Championships normal hill event Oct. 12 in Lake Placid.

Release courtesy of USSA

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Goggia a no-go for Soelden, returning in Lake Louise http://skiracing.com/stories/goggia-a-no-go-for-soelden-returning-in-lake-louise/ http://skiracing.com/stories/goggia-a-no-go-for-soelden-returning-in-lake-louise/#comments Sat, 27 Sep 2014 15:35:11 +0000 SR Staff http://skiracing.com/?post_type=stories&p=31730 Sofia Goggia at the 2013 Soelden World Cup opener. GEPA/Andreas Pranter

Sofia Goggia at the 2013 Soelden World Cup opener. GEPA/Andreas Pranter

Italian World Cup giant slalom and speed skier Sofia Goggia is working on her return to competition following an injury last season by training in South America with her ​​speed teammates Daniela Merighetti, Verena Stuffer, and Johanna Schnarf.

Tragedy struck last December in the second downhill at Lake Louise where Goggia tore the ACL and MCL in her left knee, immediately ending her season.

Giant slalom, super G, and downhill are all on the menu of a training rally in Ushuaia, Argentina that concludes for Goggia on Oct. 3. Despite her strong progress on snow, the 21-year-old who was 7th in last year’s Beaver Creek SG and 4th in the same discipline at the 2013 World Championships in Schladming has her scopes set on this season’s premier event in February.

“My knee has healed perfectly,” said Goggia, “So I can work with peace of mind and tranquility. Logically, my conditioning is not at the desired level and many things from the technical point of view need to be arranged, but we are in no hurry to catch up. I have set myself up for the objective of getting in top condition throughout the season. “

For this reason Goggia not take part in the World Cup giant slalom opener in Soelden, less than a month away, instead planning her return at the same venue where she was injured last season. Lindsey Vonn will also make her return from and ACL injury at the same series. With a strong result in Canada, Goggia hopes erase the bad memories from 2013.

Release courtesy of FISI

 

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McKennis continues to gain speed in return from injury http://skiracing.com/stories/mckennis-continues-to-gain-speed-in-return-from-injury/ http://skiracing.com/stories/mckennis-continues-to-gain-speed-in-return-from-injury/#comments Fri, 26 Sep 2014 15:28:35 +0000 SR Staff http://skiracing.com/?post_type=stories&p=31723 Alice McKennis at the 2013 St. Anton World Cup awards presentation. GEPA/Florian Ertl

Alice McKennis at the 2013 St. Anton World Cup awards presentation. GEPA/Florian Ertl

Alice McKennis was all smiles as she sat in her Zermatt hotel room last week describing what an incredible camp the U.S. Ski Team women’s speed specialists had on the Swiss glacier.

“This camp has been awesome,” McKennis said via Skype. “The weather and conditions have been nearly perfect. We’ve been running full length super G, around 1:20, so it’s a good leg burner for me.”

Not only is it a physical challenge for the 25-year old Colorado native, but a mental challenge too. The Zermatt speed camp marked the second training session McKennis has joined this summer after a 1.5-year recovery from severely fracturing her right tibia plateau in March 2013.

“I feel like I’m doing really well considering I’m skiing five to six full-length runs a day as well as riding a 15 minute T-bar each time,” she said. “They (T-bars) can be brutal on your legs.”

Much of McKennis’ recovery has been focused on patience and listening to her body. After skiing briefly last fall, she made the decision to sit out the rest of the 2013-14 season to give her body the time it needed to heal more completely. That included a final surgery at the end of this past January to remove a plate and 10 screws from her leg.

McKennis grabs a helicopter ride in Zermatt. Facebook

McKennis grabs a helicopter ride in Zermatt. Facebook

While this summer’s New Zealand camp was focused on freeskiing with an introduction to GS, the leap McKennis took to full-length super G in Zermatt is one about which she’s being very calculated.

“I’m really taking the time to listen to my body and focus on the small, technical details of my skiing, like hip positioning,” McKennis said. “I’m focused on doing things correctly and not just going through the motions with half effort.”

This calculated return to snow seems to be working. McKennis’ physical and mental confidence is growing with each day, all the while remaining focused on her technique and inconsistencies she feels between left and right body.

“I’m not as powerful with my right leg,” she explained. “I’ve had to accept that my physical differences from right to left may or may not improve. I’m learning how to train with those differences knowing they could be something I have to permanently adapt to.”

Her boyfriend, Pat Duran, knows all too well the adaptations and struggles she’s gone through and will continue to cope with. As a former alpine and then ski cross racer, he’s had his fair share of injuries and surgeries.

“When she calls me from Europe at 4 a.m. I know she’s either in a helicopter or won a World Cup,” Duran, who serves as the Western Region Competition Service Director for Volkl and Marker, said jokingly.

All kidding aside, Duran is as excited for his girlfriend’s return to skiing and competing as she is. The two met in 2011, just after her first injury and while she was still on crutches. Duran has stuck by his ‘Alligator’s’ side supporting her ever since.

“This summer is huge for her to be hanging with the team and getting time on snow instead of just being able to play catch up at Copper [in November],” he said. “Everything is a few steps ahead for the first time in four years, so we’re both excited about that.”

Duran explained the balance McKennis juggles with being younger in age, yet grouped with the veteran speed skiers including Lindsey Vonn, Julia Mancuso and Stacey Cook. She’s proven herself by winning her first World Cup in 2013, and she’s optimistically looking to get back to where she left off.

“I can’t think of a harder working, more dedicated athlete,” said Wade Bishop, assistant speed coach for the U.S. women’s team. “In the five years I’ve worked with her, I’ve seen her grow in so many ways. … She’s committed to being a professional.”

Teammate Stacey Cook echoed Bishop’s thoughts regarding McKennis’ character.

“Each of our teammates brings something unique to the table,” Cook said. “Alice is a quiet leader despite being one of the youngest on our team. A lot of people said she couldn’t come back from this injury, and seeing her do it gives my teammates and [me] confidence that we can do amazing things too.”

McKennis is more than eager to continue to do “amazing things.”

“My biggest goal will be to medal in Beaver Creek [at the 2015 World Championships],” McKennis said. “But I know that it’s going to take all the small steps in the process to get me there. That’s my main focus right now.”

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VIDEO: US Ski Team reveals celebrity crushes http://skiracing.com/stories/video-us-ski-team-reveals-celebrity-crushes/ http://skiracing.com/stories/video-us-ski-team-reveals-celebrity-crushes/#comments Fri, 26 Sep 2014 13:56:38 +0000 SR Staff http://skiracing.com/?post_type=stories&p=31718 When it comes to celebrity crushes, members of the U.S. Ski Team aim high with Beyoncé, Charlize Theron, Alana Blanchard, Brad Pitt and Zac Efron, to name a few. Find out who the fastest ski racers in America are crushing on these days. 

 

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