McKinney, Tamara (1962—)

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McKinney, Tamara (1962—)

American skier who won 18 World Cup races and competed in two Olympics . Born in Lexington, Kentucky, on October 16, 1962; one of seven children of Rigan McKinney (d. 1981, a veteran steeplechase rider) and Frances McKinney (d. 1988, a ski instructor); sister of Sheila McKinney and Steve McKinney (both skiers).

Won three races and took World Cup giant slalom title (1981); finished in top four in seven of twelve races entered (1982); was the first American to win the World Cup competition overall (1983); won the World Cup giant slalom (1983), and slalom (1984); won the national slalom championship (1984); won bronze medals in combined events at the World championships (1985, 1987); took first place in the World Cup races (1986); won the gold medal in women's combined event, World championship Alpine races (1989); also an accomplished equestrian.

Tamara McKinney's family had two passions—riding and skiing. In Kentucky, famous for its thoroughbreds, the desire to be a horsewoman was considered to be as natural as breathing. Skiing, on the other hand, was a more exotic sport in a state with a moderate climate. Nevertheless, Tamara was a child when she put on her first pair of skis, and she was only 15 when she raced in her first World Cup event in 1978. Physically petite, McKinney had tremendous speed but less control. In the 1980 Winter Olympics, she fell in both the slalom and giant slalom. McKinney had to work hard to develop the strength to control her speed on the slopes.

In 1982, skiing with a fractured hand, Mc-Kinney finished in the top four in seven of the twelve races she entered. Perseverance continued to pay off as in 1983 Tamara McKinney won the giant slalom and was the first American to win the World Cup championship overall. She had high hopes for the 1984 Winter Games in Sarajevo but was .43 seconds behind the bronze medalist, veteran Perrine Pelen of France, in the giant slalom. Her chances for a medal in the slalom were also ruined when her ski hooked a gate. McKinney was back in her best form in the 1984 World Cup winning the slalom title and finishing third overall. She was 1984 national champion as well.

Though a broken leg thwarted a medal at the Winter Olympics of 1988, she came back in 1989 to win a gold medal in the women's combined at the World championship Alpine races in Vail, Colorado, beating the favored Vreni Schneider . McKinney retired in the early 1990s. Throughout her skiing career, Tamara McKinney continued her love of horseback-riding and when she was named 1983 Kentucky Sportswoman of the Year, it was as a skier and equestrian. Like American speed skater and cyclist Sheila Young , Tamara McKinney excelled in two sports.

Karin Loewen Haag , Athens, Georgia

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McKinney, Tamara (1962—)

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