Buck Hill ski kids Vonn, Ankeny score big in World Cup races
ADELBODEN, Switzerland (AP) On a great day for World Cup skiers who grew up at little Buck Hill, Lindsey Vonn got her 73rd win and Michael Ankeny scored his first race points.
They were big achievements - at opposite ends of Alpine skiing's scale in two neighboring European countries - that shared proud Minnesota roots.
''It means a lot,'' Ankeny told The Associated Press after finally getting his name on the World Cup standings with a 21st-place finish in a slalom at Adelboden, Switzerland.
Vonn recalled Sunday that Ankeny used to race against her younger brother, Reed, on the Buck Hill slope.
''I'm really happy for Michael!'' Vonn said in a statement provided by the U.S. ski team. ''It's amazing to see yet another talented skier come out of (coach) Erich Sailer's program.''
Ankeny made his World Cup debut in 2011 but broke through Sunday after topping the overall and slalom standings on the second-tier Nor-Am Cup circuit last year.
''I've been struggling a lot,'' he said. ''This is just a huge confidence booster.''
Ankeny's points-scoring two runs on the historic Swiss slope started either side of Vonn's victory dash down the super-G course at Altenmarkt-Zauchensee in Austria.
Vonn swept the weekend speed races one day after her record-matching 36th career win in World Cup downhills.
Not bad for a graduate of Buck Hill where Vonn started as a pure slalom skier on slopes with little vertical drop.
''It's really fun to see Lindsey destroying the competition and setting records,'' said Ankeny, who is six years younger than Vonn and stayed with slalom.
Ankeny describes their childhood slopes - ''about 100 meters (300 feet) long and pretty flat'' - as a good grounding.
''It makes you really fast and able to generate speed. That's an advantage,'' he said.
Last month, Vonn also credited Buck Hill for helping her to a rare World Cup giant slalom win under floodlights at Are, Sweden.
''When I was a kid I always trained under the lights after school,'' said Vonn, who came from Burnsville while Ankeny is a native of Deephaven.
So, Vonn now has amassed around 14,000 career World Cup points before Ankeny scored with 10. He's looking ahead, citing a better mental approach and trusting himself more on race day.
''I've always had the speed and in training I'm as fast as anyone,'' said Ankeny, who turns 25 when racing next Sunday at nearby Wengen. ''Now I feel good and strong and really excited with where my skiing is at.''
And maybe getting a call or text Sunday from his fellow Minnesotan?
''I will send her a message for sure,'' Ankeny said.