Back in the game
Special to the Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Editor’s note: The Aspen Times is partnering with the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association this winter to provide firsthand accounts, results and weekly updates on the Roaring Fork Valley’s world-class athletes. The Times recently featured an entry from New Castle’s Alice McKennis. In this piece, McKennis discusses her return to ski racing in Lake Louise, Alberta, where Friday she logged an eighth-place finish in a World Cup downhill.
Back in the game!
This past weekend I was up in Lake Louise, Alberta, and raced in my first races since I broke my tibial plateau last season. I hadn’t raced since just before last Christmas, and I only had 10 days in gates this November at Copper Mountain, but my coaches and I felt I was skiing well enough to get back in the races.
We had three downhill training runs before our first downhill race on Friday. We always have training runs before downhill races – it gives people a chance to check out the course and figure things out before going all out in the race. My training runs in Lake Louise were nothing to write home about; I skied pretty slow and like a pansy. Coming into Friday’s race, my confidence wasn’t too high. My goal was to place top 20, but I had my doubts that would even happen.
I focused on two things in the starting gate: enjoying the run and trusting myself. I wore Bib 4 and to be honest, once on course it felt like I was totally killing it. I felt like everything was coming together and it was so fun. When I crossed the finish line and saw my name first on the scoreboard and ahead by 1.20 seconds, I didn’t believe it at first.
Once I realized how I had done, I kind of freaked out and was super excited. I even tried to Tebow, but I was too excited and tired and it just came out looking pretty awkward. I ended up eighth – my best World Cup finish ever, and it was my first race back from injury. It was a pretty incredible day for me and meant so much to me.
All my doubts and fears that I had are now gone. It is hard to trust yourself again after being out of skiing and racing for a while, but I now know that I can still rip when it comes down to it.
The following downhill and super-G weren’t as successful for me; I was held in the start in the second downhill for 20 minutes after my teammate Laurenne Ross crashed, and that was pretty hard to deal with. As much as I tried, it was difficult to not think about what might have happened to her and to watch the helicopter fly her out – after that, my focus was pretty much done. She ended up being OK – she had some serious lacerations to her face, but nothing else was hurt and she will join us again in Europe after Christmas.
In the super-G, I didn’t send it enough on the pitch and lost a ton of time, but skied the rest of the course well.
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