New Castle skier Alice McKennis places third in downhill at World Cup
ARE, Sweden — New Castle skier Alice McKennis took third in the downhill at the final World Cup event of the season Wednesday, while Vail’s Lindsey Vonn claimed the win and Italy’s Sofia Goggia took the overall World Cup title.
It was McKennis’ first podium since 2013, and comes on the heels of a fifth-place finish in the Olympic downhill in Pyeongchang, South Korea last month.
“It’s been a while. I’m so stoked! It’s been a journey to get here again and to be on the podium again is amazing,” McKennis told U.S. Ski & Snowboard after the win.
Goggia and Vonn each had something to celebrate when their season-long rivalry in downhill concluded Wednesday.
Goggia followed up her Olympic downhill gold by claiming the season-long World Cup title in the discipline, while Vonn narrowly beat Goggia to win the race at World Cup finals and record career victory No. 82.
Goggia ended up three points ahead of Vonn in the standings.
“It was really a (tough) race but she won the race and I won this,” Goggia said as she hugged the crystal globe trophy. “It’s always an honor to race her.
“After the gold in Korea I knew that I could also win this cup but it wasn’t easy,” the Italian added. “I was a bit uncertain after missing a gate in training but I skied well today.”
The only other Italian woman to win the downhill title was Isolde Kostner in 2001 and 2002.
On the men’s side, Beat Feuz finished ahead of Olympic champion Aksel Lund Svindal to take his first career discipline title.
Austrian teammates Vincent Kriechmayr and Matthias Mayer tied for the win, finishing 0.04 seconds ahead of Feuz and 0.12 ahead of Svindal, giving the once-dominant team its first downhill victory of the season.
In a shortened race that was more like a sprint than a full downhill, Vonn clocked 55.65 seconds to finish 0.06 ahead of Goggia.
It was Vonn’s fourth straight World Cup downhill victory, after settling for bronze at the Pyeongchang Olympics behind Goggia and Ragnhild Mowinckel of Norway.
The American is now within four wins of Ingemar Stenmark’s World Cup record of 86.
“I’m really happy to close out the season with a win, and I’m sure (Sofia) is very excited to have the title,” Vonn said. “Sofia always gives it 110 percent and sometimes she wins, and sometimes she crashes. I feel like she is very similar to myself. We have a great deal of respect for each other and it’s been fun to compete with her this year.”
After crossing the line first and pushing Goggia down to second, Vonn needed another racer to finish ahead of Goggia to win the title but the help never came. McKennis came closest but finished third, 0.28 behind.
“I’ve never suffered so much waiting for the end of a race,” Goggia said. “But in the end it turned out well.”
It was McKennis’ second career podium result, more than five years after she won a downhill in St. Anton, Austria.
Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein, the only other woman with a chance of claiming the title, finished seventh in the race and third in the standings, 115 points behind Goggia.
The start of the race was delayed by snow, wind and fog.
In the men’s standings, Feuz ended up 70 points ahead of Svindal, thanks in large part to his victories in Lake Louise, Alberta; Wengen, Switzerland; and Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.
He became the first Swiss racer to claim the honor since Didier Cuche won the last of his four crystal globes in 2011.
It was a measure of revenge for Feuz, who took bronze behind Svindal and Kjetil Jansrud in the Olympic downhill.
Super-G races are scheduled for Thursday in Are, which will host next season’s world championships.
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