Mendes 5th in World Cup downhill |

Mendes 5th in World Cup downhill

Tahoe Daily Tribune Staff Reports

Jonna Mendes, of the United States, reacts after her run at the Women's World Cup downhill at St. Moritz, Switzerland, Saturday, Dec 20, 2003. Mendes placed fifth. (AP Photo/Keystone, Arno Balzarini)

South Lake Tahoe skier can’t miss in Switzerland

ST. MORITZ, Switzerland – Jonna Mendes, who was the bronze medalist in the super G at the 2003 World Championships in St. Moritz, returned Saturday and grabbed the second World Cup top-5 finish of her career, with a fifth in a World Cup downhill that was won by Austrian Renate Goetschl.

South Lake Tahoe’s Mendes is a two-time veteran of the Winter Olympics. Mendes, who collected her first World Cup top-5 in a downhill in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, last season, was clocked at 1 minute 40.24 seconds.

Mendes’ teammate Kirsten Clark of Raymond, Maine, posted a time of 1:40.85 to finish 16th. The race was moved to Laax, Switzerland, because of poor snow conditions.

“This was not the same hill as world champs,” U.S. downhill and super G coach Alex Hoedelmoser said. “We were over on the men’s course, but Jonna – and Clarky too – skied really well. Jonna skied so well through the tough turns.

“Jonna was fastest up top where it’s flat and it’s all gliding – and Bryna (McCarty, Concord, Vt.) was second and ‘Powy’ (Alison Powers, Winter Park, Colo.) third, but Bryna and Powy couldn’t do it in the turns through the middle.”

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Mendes, running second in the field of 56, said the flats led into “some turns that were pretty technical for us. There were a lot of big crankers right in the middle of the course. Definitely, two big turns were crucial and I was able to keep my speed through both of them.

“I knew I’d been fast on top, so I knew my skis were running and I pretty much kept the speed I gained up there. I kept telling myself ‘You’re really fast. You’re really fast.’ I already believe in my ability,” she said. “And I know my skiing is really good. I’ve already proved that, but a lot of times my biggest obstacle is my head. Today, I was ready for it.”

Mendes drew a comparison between St. Moritz and her amazing successes (first top-30, top-20, top-10) at Canada’s Lake Louise, noting, “There are certain hills we race on every year that I seem to enjoy – and this is one of them. We were partly on the men’s course, but St. Moritz does such a good job. They get so many volunteers and course workers, and conditions were terrific.

“The hill’s in great shape.”

She added, “Normally, downhills will have a lot of repetition in them; we see a lot of the same courses each year but this season we’re going to some new places, so I hope to share the love (from Louise, from St. Moritz),” she laughed.

Fog canceled the super G Sunday. The next World Cup stop will be Lienz, Austria, Dec. 27-28 for giant slalom and slalom races. The women also have a super G and slalom scheduled for Megeve, France, Jan. 4-5.

In collecting the 29th win of her career, Goetschl finished in 1:39.78 with German Hilde Greg second in 1:39.95.