MERIBEL, France - Julia Mancuso of Squaw Valley ripped to second in the downhill half of Sunday's World Cup super combined in Meribel, France, but dropped to fourth overall after hooking up in the soft snow of the slalom portion.
Tina Maze of Slovenia took the win - her eighth of the season - to clinch the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup overall title a full three weeks before the end of the season. Austrians Nicole Hosp and Michaela Kirchgasser finished second and third.
Heavy overnight snow forced the organizers to delay the start of the downhill and lower the start.
"In places we got like two feet of snow last night. It was really soft so those slalom athletes definitely had a good advantage with the lowered downhill start and the better start positions," Mancuso said. "The slalom was actually pretty good. I did some slalom training two days ago and things are starting to feel better there. I did have a big mistake at the top, but was able to keep it on the course."
Among the other American racers, Laurenne Ross finished 15th and Leanne Smith was 26th, while Stacey Cook of Truckee did not finish the downhill.
"Stacey was in the hunt, even with her late start number, and caught an edge and missed a gate," said U.S. Women's Head Coach Alex Hoedlmoser.
"Julia did a really good job today," the coach added. "We know that we don't have too much of a shot in the slalom and our goal was to put some more effort into the downhill and fix some things from yesterday. That definitely worked out. It was unfortunate that we had to go from the lower start today. If it would have been from the top, Jules might have had a bigger gap on the Austrian slalom specialists and been on the podium.
Less than a second separated the top 17 finishers in Saturday's Audi FIS Alpine World Cup women's downhill, with Mancuso leading the way for the U.S. Ski Team in 13th, .90 behind surprise winner Carolina Ruiz Castillo of Spain.
It was a historic first World Cup downhill victory for Spain and the first podium of any kind since 2006. American Alice McKennis finished just behind Mancuso in a three-way tie for 14th. Smith was 18th, Cook 27th and Ross 35th.
"This was a race where you had to be super precise," Hoedlmoser said. "There wasn't any room for error if you wanted to be on the podium. Jules and Alice skied pretty well through my section and Stacey was really fast, but made a huge mistake and lost all of her speed. This was a tough course to lose speed and almost impossible to get it back."
Cook's result dropped her one spot in the downhill standings to third behind the sidelined Lindsey Vonn and Maze. McKennis is fifth, Smith ninth and Mancuso 14th in the standings as the U.S. Ski Team continues to lead the nation's standings for downhill.