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McKennis upstages Vonn at St Anton downhill

Alice McKennis of US reacts in finish area of the women's World Cup downhill, on January 12, 2012
Alice McKennis of US reacts in finish area of the women's World Cup downhill, on January 12, 2012 in Austria. McKennis won the event, ahead of Daniela Merighetti of Italy and Austrian Anna Fenninger.

Four-time overall World Cup champion Lindsey Vonn returned to action on Saturday after a month's absence, but it was US teammate Alice McKennis who topped the podium in the World Cup downhill.

McKennis, starting with bib number four, clocked 1min 14.62sec down the Karl Schranz course, for her maiden victory finishing 0.07sec ahead of Italian Daniela Merighetti, with Austrian Anna Fenniger taking third at 0.16sec.

Overall World Cup leader Tina Maze of Slovenia came in fourth, with another American, Laurenne Ross in fifth, and Vonn in sixth, 0.34sec adrift.

"I'm extremely happy right now. It's something I thought about growing up and now it's finally there. It is obviously very special," said McKennis.

"I was surprised to be up front as I'm known more as a glider. Doing so good on a technical track is really amazing. I guess it was a matter of dealing with the soft snow in the bottom part of the course."

McKennis also praised the US team after she became the fifth American to win a World Cup race this season.

Lindsey Vonn of the US competes during the St Anton women's downhill on January 12, 2013
Lindsey Vonn of the US competes during the St Anton women's downhill as part of the 2013 FIS Ski World Cup held in Austria, on January 12, 2013.

"Being in such a strong team is pretty inspiring. We all work together and help each other. Having Lindsey around is a great motivation. It is really good to have her as a benchmark during our training sessions. This pushes us all to ski super fast."

Vonn has endured a roller-coaster season, being hospitalised with an intestinal ailment before bouncing back to win all three races at Lake Louise.

However, after falling at Val D'Isere in December, she announced she was heading back to the United States for a month's rest.

In 27 days' absence, Vonn missed six events, all technical, comprising three slaloms, two giant slaloms and a parallel slalom. In that time, Maze upped the ante in the race for the overall title by notching up 340 points.

Vonn, whose divorce from husband and former ski racer Thomas Vonn was made official on Thursday, now has 454 points in the overall standings, 735 behind Maze.

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