McKennis strong in season’s 1st training run |

McKennis strong in season’s 1st training run

Alice McKennis celebrates her return to ski racing after multiple knee injuries, finishing fourth in the first training run for the Audi FIS Ski World Cup downhill in Lake Louise, Alberta, on Tuesday.
Tom Kelly / U.S. Ski Team |

LAKE LOUISE, Alberta —All of the nervous emotions Alice McKennis was feeling Tuesday morning turned into an emotional high during her first World Cup training run in more than a year.

The Glenwood Springs native, making her first World Cup training run since a debilitating leg injury in March of 2013, finished fourth in a world-wide field during initial preparations for this weekend’s events at Lake Louise Ski Resort.

“You’re always nervous for the first training run of the year, and doubly I haven’t done it in a long time,” McKennis said after her run. “I didn’t really believe it [when she saw her time]. I’m still not really sure if that was my time or not.”

McKennis’ official time on Tuesday was 1 minute, 53.26 seconds, which trailed only Lottie Smiseth Sejersted of Norway, Slovenia’s Tina Maze and Austria’s Mirjam Puchner, who finished just two-hundreths of a second ahead of McKennis.

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The 25-year-old had shattered her left tibial plateau in Austria in 2011, then suffered a similar but more severe injury two months after picking up her first World Cup victory in July of 2013 in St. Anton, Austria. She initially tried to speed up her recovery in an effort to be ready for the 2014 Sochi Games, but she withdrew just weeks before the Games to ensure she could recover properly and compete again at a high level.

So far, so good, she feels.

“It’s been so much work to get here,” she said. “That time was pretty shocking, and I definitely had more emotions than any of the other racers out here I’ll bet.”

McKennis isn’t the only member of the U.S. Ski Team who is attempting a comeback at Lake Louise. Vail’s Lindsey Vonn, an Olympic gold medalist who was also making her first training run of the season since an injury kept her out of the Sochi Games, finished 17th in training. Next to McKennis, Julia Mancuso was the second-highest American finisher thanks to her seventh-place finish.

Training will continue through Thursday, with downhill events scheduled to kick off the weekend competition on Friday.

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