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Smith 16th at the World Championships; Vonn hurt

By Lloyd Jones

2-6-leanne-smith---u.s.-ski-team-press-conference-in-austriaLeanne Smith (second from left) and teammates are interviewed during the US Ski team pre tournament press conference Sunday in Schladming, Austria, (Photo by Mitchell Gunn/ESPA)CONWAY — Leanne Smith finished 16th in the super G World Championship in Schladming, Austria Tuesday in a race that was delayed 14 times due to bad weather and ultimately terminated after 36 racers.

"I'm not very happy with my performance today," said Smith. "But everyone had the same opportunity and I'm not that excited about it, but there's always next race and you learn from your mistakes and shortcomings."

Teammate Lindsey Vonn crashed and was airlifted off the race hill. She suffered a torn ACL and MCL in her right knee and a lateral tibial plateau fracture. Vonn was one of six women who did not finish the race while 23 others did not start the event.

Smith, the daughter of Paula and Joe Smith, of Conway, comes into the World Championships on a skiing roll having landed on the podium in two of the last three downhills on the World Cup circuit.

The race, which was delayed numerous times due to fog, rain and darkness but run during a brief period of sun in the afternoon down the Streicher course was won by Tina Maze, of Slovakia, in 1:35.39.

Lara Gut, of Switzerland, was second, 1:35.77, while American Julia Mancuso was third, 1:35.91.

Smith was the second fastest U.S. racer, finishing 16th in 1:37.08.

Smith refused to play Monday morning quarterback and pass judgment on the jury's decision to hold the race, but she did say the snow was inconsistent at best.

"It is what it is. It's out of our control. If they're going to run us, they're going to run us," she said. "You can complain about the snow. You can complain about waiting three hours, but you have to be ready to go when it's time to go."

Laurenne Ross rounded out the U.S. squad, finishing 26th in 1:38.37.

Doug Haney, chief press officer for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, predicted Smith would make the podium this winter and has seen the former three-sport standout from Kennett, grow in confidence over the past two months.

"Leanne is rolling No. 14 (starting number for the super G)," Haney wrote Monday night. "She is radiating confidence. Two downhill podiums will do that. We did a shoot with the host broadcaster yesterday with her, LV (Lindsey Vonn) and Jules (Mancuso). She full on is mugging for the camera and loving every second of it. We left the building together. A guy grabbed LV on the arm. Leanne squinted, looked dead into his eyes and said, 'Dude, you don't just grab a girl like that. Get outta here.' She will mess this hill up too."

The World Championships run through Feb. 17. Smith anticipates racing in the super combined on Friday; and the downhill on Sunday.
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