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McKennis Blog: Sochi!

This past weekend in Sochi I finally got the result I’ve been hoping for! My tenth place result in the Downhill race was really rewarding for me. After being in a bit of slump since Lake Louise in December it was awesome to get back in the top ten, especially on the 2014 Olympic course. My training runs in Sochi didn’t go great and were unpleasant to watch but I pulled it together on race day, I felt out of control most of my run but I was going for it and it worked out pretty well. I also came down leading which is very fun, pretty cool to stand in the leader’s box even for a few racers.

The Downhill course is very cool, some tricky steep sections combined with two decent sized jumps and a really fun flatter section with a ton of terrain. The course comes at you continually which is really fun, it’s great when you get a flatter section and you still have to be active and ski, often times the flatter sections in Downhill are a little too relaxed and give you too much time to think which is never good in Downhill.

I was ready to give the Super-Combined a go on Sunday’s race with bib 60 but after inspection I had some serious doubts as to how the snow was going to hold up….not great in my opinion. Luckily most of the racers held the same view as well as the race officials that the snow was sketchy. There was about an hour of uncertainly where it seemed like no one in Sochi had a clue what was going on, just weird decisions with re-setting the course to find “safer” snow conditions. It turned out the re-set of the bottom pitch wasn’t any better and the correct decision to cancel was made. Good thing, I think some of the gates would have had ruts the size of Texas in there. Not safe or enjoyable.
After re-inspecting the bottom of the Super-G…lots of talking…and maybe a little confusion?

Aside from racing in Sochi there is only one other thing going on there; construction. Masses of construction. People have been talking about how much building is going on and they are not kidding, it’s a lot and super impressive. Better them than me…yikes.

The mountain itself in Sochi is incredible. The free-skiing looks phenomenal, I dabbled in some freeskiing when our second training run was canceled, it was fun and I crashed. Twice. In the space of three runs, so I was pretty much killing it.

The security situation in Sochi was an experience, we had to go through metal detectors everyday to get on the gondola and there were quite a few men with machine guns around the top of gondola. Can’t be too careful these days…you just never know who or what is out there.

Anyway we are now in Bankso, Bulgaria for some of the last World Cup speed races of the season. I’m excited to get on another new track before heading home for the first time since Christmas. I’m really looking forward to getting back to the United States and spending some time in Colorado before finishing up the season with one more trip to Europe and then onto US Nationals.

Alice McKennis is a member of the U.S. Alpine Ski Team from Glenwood Springs, Colo. She was named to the 2010 U.S. Olympic Team and, at 21, has become a regular on the World Cup Tour with five top-15 finishes to her name. McKennis was also the 2009 NorAm Cup downhill and super G overall champion.

Eric Williams

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