Mckennis Leads the Way in Crans-Montana Downhill
Alice Mckennis led the charge for the Land Rover U.S. Alpine Ski Team, landing in 16th in Saturday's sun-splashed downhill in Crans-Montana, Switzerland.
Under the Swiss sunshine for the second day in a row, Lara Gut-Behrami and countrywoman Corrine Suter went 1-2 with an Austrian in third, in what was an entirely different outcome than yesterday's .80-second margin victory from Lara. Just two one-hundredths of a second seprated Lara and teammate Corrine, and five one-hundredths of a second separated Lara and Austria's Nina Ortlieb, in third. After not having won a downhill since January 28, 2017, Lara seems to have found her stridde, winning back-to-back downhills for the first time since December 18-19, 2015.
Though Saturday's result was Alice's best result since her 10th place in Lake Louise, Canada, in December, it was bit bittersweet, as it was the last downhill on the 2019-20 calendar before World Cup Finals. "Today was a step in the right direction for me," reflected Alice in the finish area. "It's been kind of a rough season, coming back in the new year I really struggled to find my stride. After my crash in Bansko, I lost a lot of confidence, and it's been a tough few weeks. Today I felt more like myself again, and skied more like I have been in training, and I'm going to walk away from today with a little more confidence. Obviously disappointed with the way the season went and had hoped for a lot more, but it was nice to finish the downhill season on a good night."
Breezy Johnson, who was fifth in Friday's downhill, had a strong first couple of splits and was right in there, but didn't quite have the direction she needed over a jump and missed a gate. She is thankfully OK, and skied down. "Today was tough, because I watched the first few girls and I knew that you had to have a near-perfect run in order to even just be on the podium," said Breezy. "I mean, between first and third place there's practically no difference. So, I sent it and I sent it a little too hard, and you've gotta kind of push those boundaries sometimes in order to know where theyre at. I can't fault myself for that, obviously definitely something to learn."
Breezy ended the season ranked 20th in the downhill standings, stamping her ticket to World Cup Finals to compete among the best 25 downhill skiers in the world in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy—a track the Land Rover U.S. Alpine Ski Team women's speed team has had a signficant amount of success on in the past. Breezy's best result in Cortina was a 10th-place in January 2017.
"To be able to go to Finals this year...I did not know that was going to happen," Breezy added. "Missing the first two races, and coming back from injury - there's absolutely no guaruntee. So I'm thrilled to be qualified for Finals, to go to Cortina—which is a great hill for this whole team, and I'm going to try to carry the flag as well as I can."
Alice Merryweather also had a solid result on Saturday, ending up 20th. Jackie Wiles was just outside the top-30, landing in 31st.
Despite sitting the last seven races out (three downhills, two super-Gs, a giant slalom, and a slalom), Mikaela continues to hold the lead in the overall standings, by 27 points over Italy’s Federica Brignone (who was just off the podium in fourth in Saturday's downhill) and 86 points ahead of Petra Vlhova, who finished in 14th in Saturday's downhill.
Corrine took home her first-ever Crystal Globe and became the first Swiss to win the downhill title since 1990-91. Czech Republic's Ester Ledecka sits in second in the standings, followed by Federica in third, Lara in fourth, and Mikaela in fifth. At this point, the current overall leader Mikaela's return to Europe and return to competition is unknown.
Up next is an alpine combined—with one run of super-G and one run of slalom—on Sunday.
HOW TO WATCH
All times EST
Sunday, Feb. 23
12:30 a.m. - Women’s downhill, Crans-Montana, SUI - NBCSN*
4:15 a.m. - Women’s combined super-G, Crans-Montana, SUI - Olympic Channel.com, NBC Sports Gold
7:30 a.m. - Women’s combined slalom, Crans-Montana, SUI- Olympic Channel, Olympic Channel.com, NBC Sports Gold
Monday, Feb. 24
1:00 a.m. - Women’s combined, Crans-Montana, SUI - NBCSN*
Note: All televised events to stream across NBCSports.com, NBC Sports app, OlympicChannel.com, and Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA app.
Exclusive commercial-free coverage will be available for subscribers of the NBC Sports Gold Pass, available here: https://www.nbcsports.com/gold/snow.