Leanne Smith smiles in the finish in Val d'Isere, picking up her first career World Cup podium in the downhill. (Getty Images/Agence Zoom - Alain Grosclaude)
VAL d'ISERE, FRANCE (Dec. 14) - Leanne Smith parlayed an early start number into a career first Audi FIS Alpine World Cup podium, finishing second in the Val d'Isere downhill behind Swiss winner Lara Gut. Smith, who started third, led four Americans into the top 10 on a shortened course after high winds forced a move of the start. Lindsey Vonn crashed hard into the B-netting, but skied away with no major injuries. Vonn remained third in the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup overall and still leads in downhill standings with Cook second. The women race super G on Saturday in Val d'Isere.
Leanne Smith (N. Conway, NH) skied to a career first podium, finishing second in a wind shortened downhill in Val d'Isere.
Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO) lost her footing on a fallaway turn near the top and slid into the B-netting. Vonn got up and skied down on her own power to the finish. While sore, coaches expect that she will be able to ski in Saturday's super G.
The Best in the World women's speed team has now placed four different athletes on the podium this season.
Vonn remained tied for third in the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup overall with Mancuso sixth and Cook tenth.
In the downhill standings, Vonn remained in the lead with Cook second, Mancuso eighth and Smith moving into tenth.
Universal Sports TV will broadcast the women's downhill at 9:00 a.m. EST Friday with rebroadcast at 6:30 p.m.
The women are back in action Saturday with a super G.
QUOTES Leanne Smith 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.
I've been on the World Cup team for a few years now and its starting to feel comfortable. Hopefully you'll see more of me now.
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.
Alex Hoedelmoser, Women's Head Coach It has been the goal of the team to put everyone on the podium this year. We've seen in the last few years that they are top 10 skiers and the next step is the podium. So far in speed we've had four different people on the podium so we're on track with that goal.
It will give her great confidence. We expected her to podium this year more in super G, where she's stronger. It will be interesting to see what she does with that confidence tomorrow.
On Lindsey Vonn Crash: 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. But in general, she's OK. We'll see how she's feeling tomorrow but I expect her to race.