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Alice McKennis still hoping to compete in Worlds after missing downhill

BEAVER CREEK — Alice McKennis didn’t sugarcoat how she felt after she wasn’t able to compete in the women’s downhill during the FIS World Ski Championships that took place on Friday.

“It’s devastating not to have had the chance to race the downhill as it was my biggest goal over the past few years,” McKennis, a Glenwood Springs native, said by email on Friday. “But I have to keep moving forward, and still have to be proud of how far I have come.”

The 25-year-old McKennis, a member of the U.S. Ski Team in Vancouver in 2010, was named to the American squad for the world championships as she continues her recovery from what was a potentially debilitating knee injury in 2013, which forced her to bow out of the running for the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, last January. That said, she was in the running to compete in her best event, the women’s downhill, during training sessions on Thursday.

The U.S. coaching staff, however, went with Lindsey Vonn, Julia Mancuso, Laurenne Ross and Stacey Cook for Friday’s downhill following their evaluations of Thursday’s training runs. Vonn and Mancuson were locks for the event, leaving McKennis, Ross and Cook to compete for the two remaining spots in Friday’s downhill.

Those spots, however, went to Ross and Cook. McKennis feels she knows why.

“We have such a strong downhill team that you really have to do something special to stand out from the group,” McKennis said. “My training runs at Beaver Creek were OK, but not good enough for the coaches to choose me.

“With the second of the three training runs being canceled on Wednesday that cut my chances down, and a costly mistake on Thursday’s training pretty much sealed the deal that I would not race [Friday],” she continued. “It’s a pretty tough spot to be in, with not having the amount of runs on the Raptor as my teammates who competed here last year, and all the other injuries I have had to push through and always trying to play catch up. I always knew Sochi was long shot but I really thought I could ski fast enough in time for the World Championships.”

For the record, Vonn was the top American finisher with her fifth-place finish. Mancuso (16th), Ross (17th) and Cook (19th) were next in line among the Americans.

McKennis hasn’t been completely shut out for Worlds. She still has a chance to qualify for the super combined, which takes place on Monday.

“It’s not my first choice of an event to race, but it would be a consolation after missing the downhill and still give me chance to compete at home,” she said. “Hopefully it works out for the best.”

WEATHER NETS SIXTH-PLACE FINISH FOR ZYRE AUSTIN

MAMMOTH MOUNTAIN, Calif. — Windy conditions forced the cancellation of finals in the U.S. Grand Prix Freeskiing halfpipe on Friday, netting Glenwood Springs native Zyre Austin a sixth-place finish based in her qualifying run this past Wednesday at Mammoth Mountain Resort.

Austin snagged the final qualifying spot in the six-person final with a first-run score of 74.20. Winning the event was Olympic gold medalist Maddie Bowman, who qualified first with a score of 88.80.


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