SPEED RUNS DEEP
STRONG LEADERSHIP AND TEAMWORK IS PAYING OFF BIG FOR THE
U.S. WOMEN’S SPEED TEAM BY ERIC WILLIAMS
Leanne Smith has pulled nine World Cup top- 15 finishes in the last two seasons.
Heading into the World Cup speed season opening
weekend in Lake Louise, the U.S. women’s team didn’t
know what to expect. Lindsey Vonn had just announced
a split from her husband/coach; Alice McKennis wasn’t
sure she would even compete, having badly broken
her leg only 11 months earlier; and, like the rest of the
World Cup women, nobody had raced a downhill in eight
Three wins, a fourth podium finish and five more top- 20
results later, they left Canada as the team to beat again
Ski racing may not be a team sport, but in the world of
World Cup speed skiing, nobody can go it alone.
Making good time down a two-mile, winding strip of ice
while reaching speeds of 75 miles per hour requires more
than a couple knowledgeable coaches, a solid course re-
port from a teammate, and, if possible, some words of
wisdom from a veteran racer who’s been down the thing a
dozen times. That’s all after one or two training runs, one
or two hours of video review and one or two coats of wax
carefully applied by your technician.
The U.S. women have all those things going for them
in addition to training alongside the fastest woman in the
world, and they have found a way to work as a team to
pull in some impressive individual results.