The U.S. Ski Team is feeling optimistic as both the men and women took top spots in Wednesday’s downhill training runs, finishing 1-2 at both locations. Early season training may be paying off with four U.S. women and three U.S. men in the top 30.
In Val D’Isere, France, Alice Mckennis Duran edged teammate Breezy Johnson by 0.13 seconds to take the top spot. Less than a month ago at U.S. nationals held at Copper Mountain, Mckennis Duran took the national title in SG and finished third in downhill, 0.76 seconds behind teammate Johnson. Johnson has been itching to return to a full world cup speed season after last year’s return to competition following her third knee surgery. She battled with teammate Mckennis Duran during U.S. nationals, showing her speed by taking the national title in downhill and finishing third in super G.
Just 0.13 seconds behind Johnson was Norway’s 22 year-old Kajsa Vickhoff Lie. Lie has been fighting her way closer to a world cup speed podium, previously winning downhill training runs but falling just outside the top 10 on race day. Jackie Wiles of the USST finished 11th in today’s training run, rounded out by teammate Keely Cashman who snuck in the top 30 in 28th.
In Val Gardena, Italy, it was Jared Goldberg who put down the fastest run in Wednesday’s downhill training, closely followed by teammate Bryce Bennett in a tie with Norway’s Kjetil Jansurd, 0.22 seconds behind. Goldberg also saw early success in Copper, finishing top three across the two training runs and national championship race in downhill. Goldberg has been dialing in his equipment and speed going into the World Cup season, paying off with the fastest time today.
Bennett returns to Val Gardena with a strong start once again, finishing fifth in last year’s training run before the downhill race was canceled. Bennett did not come off as strong in the opening speed races, finishing 11th in the national downhill race and 24th in the previous downhill race in Val D’Isere. However, Bennett once again finds his speed and proves that he is a serious contender going into the downhill races this weekend.
Teammate Ryan Cochran-Siegle finished ninth, rounding out the U.S. men in the top 30. USST athlete Sam Morse was just outside the top 30, finishing only 0.14 away in 34th.
The women have a second training run tomorrow with two downhill races on Dec. 18 and 19. The men will have a final training run tomorrow before the SG on Dec. 18, followed by the downhill race on Dec. 19.