KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — The U.S. women failed to medal in the super G on Saturday, and questions began to arise about the lack of American alpine success halfway through the games.
The American women have one skiing medal, Julia Mancuso’s bronze in super combined, so far. In Vancouver, the Americans won eight medals, which set high expectations for the Sochi games.
“It’s definitely a high number to achieve, but we still have strong athletes, Ted (Ligety) coming for the next couple of days and then Mikaela (Shiffrin) being here, so the games aren’t over yet,” said U.S. alpine director Patrick Riml. “We’re halfway through and we have some strong performers and good events coming up.”
The women’s speed team was led by Mancuso’s eighth place in the super G on Saturday. Eighteen racers failed to finish, including eight of the first nine.
Truckee native Stacey Cook crashed but escaped without serious injury, according to U.S. officials.
“The course was difficult, as you can see,” Mancuso said. “For my run I think I watched too many people go and have bad runs and I let it get to me mentally. That’s been the hardest thing for me to overcome, is even though I feel really good on my skis right now, and I got that first medal, I still lack a lot of confidence from not having great results and great races at the beginning of the season.”
Mancuso was 1.52 seconds behind gold-medal winner Anna Fenninger, of Austria. Maria Hoefl-Riesch won silver, and Nicole Hosp got bronze. It was the second medal of the games for both Hoefl-Riesch and Hosp.
A tricky turn on the last pitch of the course knocked racer after racer off the course.
“It’s a bad club to be a part of,” said Canadian Larisa Yurkiw, who was one of the racers who skied out at that section. “When you’re in the start and you know what to expect and you know everyone’s making similar mistakes, it’s not OK to come down and do the same thing.”
Leanne Smith, of North Conway, N.H., finished 18th, and was the only racer of the first nine to finish. Leanne Smith skied off course, while Cook was a little bruised after crashing but will be OK, U.S. officials said.
“There’s definitely some disappointments for sure,” Mancuso said of the U.S. team’s fortunes so far. “In the downhill, I wanted to have a better race and Bode for sure wanted to do better, but it’s hard. There’s only three spots that you can get a medal — first, second and third — and there’s tons of skiers out here that can really step it up and have their best races.”
The women’s speed team had great results last year — five members had podium finishes — but has struggled this year.
“There were some expectations there,” Riml said. “The confidence level was not the same for the whole team as it was last year.”
Shiffrin fifth in rainy GS
In her Olympic debut, American Mikaela Shiffrin placed fifth Tuesday in the women’s giant slalom, while Mancuso did not finish her first run in what was her final race of the 2014 Olympics.
Heavy rain pelted the 18-year-old World Champion during her second run, but she reigned in a world-class performance to land in the top five behind gold winner Tina Maze of Slovenia.
The men are set to ski the GS on Wednesday, when four-time World Cup champion Ted Ligety will look to win his first Olympic medal for giant slalom. Truckee’s Tim Jitloff also will race the GS.
Sun Staff and the U.S. Ski Team contributed to this report.