The women kicked off their weekend in Val d'Isere with Friday's Audi FIS Alpine World Cup downhill event. The U.S. Ski Team's Leanne Smith had a breakout performance to finish in second place, earning her first career World Cup podium! Switzerland's Lara Gut won the day, while her teammate Nadja Kamer rounded out the podium in third place. In all, four members of Team USA skied in the top 10, including Julia Mancuso in 7th, Alice McKennis in 8th and Stacey Cook in 10th.
Smith was elated to secure her first podium finish, exclaiming, “This is something that you dream about – that you put your heart and soul into it. Every day you try to do your best. Today was my day. I skied as hard as I could. I can't express how awesome this feels.”
The skier went on to compliment the strong performance of the entire women's team, saying, “The U.S. Ski Team is amazing. In every downhill, there is a new girl on the podium. We put in so much effort during summertime in the gym. It's amazing to be part of a team like this – helping each other and hoping each other does well. My teammates know they can be on the podium too. We have a great coaching staff right now and a great set of technicians.”
Its incredible to see
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the entire women's team consistently achieving such a high level of performance. Julia Mancuso continued to ski strong to finish in 8th to match her position in the downhill standings. She is 6th in the overall. Stacey Cook also proved that she is going to continue skiing great this season as well, her 10th place finish puts her in 10th overall, and further solidifies her 2nd place position in the downhill standings.
Superstar Lindsey Vonn ended up crashing hard after losing her footing during her downhill run. Fortunately, the B-netting caught her. It appeared to be a pretty significant crash, however, Vonn, being the resilient athlete she is, was able to pick herself up and ski down on her own to finish the race. Coaches say she is sore, but will be able to compete in Saturday's super G.
Alex Hoedelmoser, Women's Head Coach spoke about Lindsey's crash, explaining, “It's just a mistake that every skier makes at some point with her inside ski. There's a little bit of fall away in that turn and with her type of skiing where she's pushing it to the limit it was just a touch too much there with the inside ski.
“She hit the fence hard so she's going to be sore”, said Hoedelmoser. But in general, she's OK. We'll see how she's feeling tomorrow but I expect her to race.”
Although it was a disappointment to miss out on the World Cup points, Lindsey remains in the top position in the downhill discipline, and also retains her third place spot in the overall World Cup points race.
The World Cup excitement continues into Saturday with the women's super G, an event Leanne Smith is expected to perform well in.