Kennett High grad Leanna Smith shines on World Cup ski scene
Smith, a Kennett High of Conway graduate, captured her first career podium finish in the FIS Alpine World Cup, taking second place in the Val d'Isere downhill in France on Friday. The 25-year-old finished runner-up to Swiss winner Lara Gut, registering a time of 1 minute, 19.91 seconds on the Oreiller-Killy slope.
A former University of New Hampshire skier and six-year World Cup veteran, Smith became the fourth U.S. alpine woman to land on the World Cup podium this season.
"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," Smith said. "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."
Teammates Lindsey Vonn, Stacey Cook and Julia Mancuso have all gotten off to strong starts in the World Cup season. Vonn and Cook are 1-2 in the downhill standings, while Mancuso is eighth and Smith 10th.
"I've been on the World Cup team for a few years now and starting to feel comfortable. Hopefully you'll see more of me now," said Smith, a former member of the Mt. Washington Valley Ski Team.
Smith's previous top World Cup finish, fifth, came in super G at Austria last March.
As a freshman at UNH, Smith was named the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association Female Rookie of the Year and garnered All-East First Team honors. She raced in one season for the Wildcats and posted several top-10 finishes, including a giant slalom victory at the Dartmouth Carnival.
She left UNH following the 2006 season to train for the U.S. Ski Team Development Group, eventually becoming the eighth Wildcat to represent the United States as an Olympian. Smith competed in the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, placing 18th in the super G and 21st in super combined.