Mancuso continues national dominance |

Mancuso continues national dominance

The Associated Press Julia Mancuso of Olympic Valley prepares for a turn on the women's giant slalom course at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area on Monday in Mammoth Lakes.

By Jeremy Evans

Tribune staff writer

MAMMOTH LAKES – After a series of podiums but no gold medals at nationals, North Shore’s Julia Mancuso wanted one first-place finish to help wash away a mild case of frustration.

On a sun-drenched Monday afternoon at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, she did just that.

Mancuso was fifth after the first run on Monday but used the fastest second run in the field to win gold in the giant slalom at the 2005 Oroweat U.S. Alpine Nationals. Mancuso’s time of 2 minutes, 53.46 seconds beat Canadian Allison Forsyth (2:54.70) and first-run leader Kristina Koznick (2:54.90) by more than a second.

Mancuso also won gold in the combined where downhill and slalom results determine the winner. But she wasn’t satisfied.

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“I wanted to (win gold) and that was the only race left,” said Mancuso, who has won a record 11 straight medals at nationals. “I felt fine because I knew the conditions were a little bit flukey on the first run. The snow was so soft and I knew that it would be all up to the second run and it would be more fair for everyone. I guess I had a good run.”

South Shore’s Jonna Mendes, who won the downhill on Friday, finished in seventh place (2:55.80), her third top-10 finish at nationals. It wasn’t quite the result she was expecting. But considering she hasn’t trained in almost three weeks, she was pleased.

“It’s a good place to be,” Mendes said. “I was supposed to be training with Noel (Dufty) in Tahoe but then it started snowing. It’s hard to train in those conditions. Plus, the skiing was so great that I didn’t really want to train.

“But I’m with an amazing group of girls and I’m right in there. I don’t compete in GS regularly. The girls I’m right in there with compete every week, where I compete only a few times a year.”

Mancuso, meanwhile, continued her dominance at nationals. In 2003, she won three gold medals. In 2004, she won a record five medals – four silver and a gold in the combined. This year, she extended her own record with five more medals and 13 in the last three years. She collected two gold medals in giant slalom and the women’s combined, which involved combining times from downhill and slalom, two silvers in downhill and super-G and bronze in slalom.

Despite her history of success at nationals, Mancuso wasn’t convinced her second run time of 1:24.20 would be enough. She hovered around the finish corral for almost a dozen more racers – her only real threats – before she was ready to announce victory.

“I didn’t know how fast I was,” Mancuso said. “You never really know. Then when I saw the scoreboard and that I was over a second ahead I thought maybe I will stay in there and wait.”

Mendes, who won GS national titles in 2001 and 2002, came across the finish line after her second run in second place. But she didn’t think there was much chance she would stay there.

“I would’ve really liked to have a podium. Of course that’s what I’m shooting for,” said Mendes, who also placed 10th in Saturday’s super-G. “But I can’t be unhappy with this. I’m leaving this nationals with a downhill title and I’m skiing really well. My GS decides to show up at certain times of the year. This year I had a couple of great results with GS early but that’s it, which is consistent with my GS career pretty much.”