Tahoe City’s Mancuso seventh in combined | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Tahoe City’s Mancuso seventh in combined

AP, USSA and Tribune reports

American Julia Mancuso skis in the Women's Combined at the World Alpine Ski Championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland, Monday, Feb. 10, 2003. Mancuso finished in seventh place. (AP Photo/Thomas Kienzle)

ST. MORITZ, Switzerland — Julia Mancuso scored a top-10 finish in the women’s combined at her first world championships on Monday but the 18-year-old from Tahoe City thought she could have done better.

Mancuso just missed a chance for a spot in the evening award ceremony, finishing seventh with her combined downhill and slalom time of 2:45.30. Only the top six are honored.

“I’m a little disappointed, but I did my best,” Mancuso said. “I think I could say I tried 100 percent and my outcome wasn’t quite what I was hoping, but that’s all I can me to do, to perform my best.”

Mancuso, who will turn 19 next month, thought she could have been faster in both disciplines.

“I’m happy, but I would’ve been happier if I were a little faster. I think I could’ve picked up a little (time) in both (downhill/slalom),” she said. “My downhill run wasn’t my best. It was faster than I’d been in training but I know I could’ve been a little better. I don’t know where I lost it because I thought I skied it pretty good, but just wasn’t successful today.”

Janica Kostelic was tired and worried about her aching knee. She was on painkillers and just wanted to make it through the day.

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She did a whole lot better than that.

Kostelic won the combined Monday, the first gold medal at a world championships for the three-time Olympic champion and winner of the overall World Cup title in 2001.

Skiing on the same hill where she nearly wrecked her career three years ago, Kostelic gave Croatia its first medal ever at the worlds.

“There’s nothing different about this victory,” she said. “But I’m glad I won it because everyone was saying, ‘She’s won everything but a world championship gold.’ So I’m glad now that no one can say anything.”

Nicole Hosp of Austria won the silver medal and Marlies Oester of Switzerland took the bronze.

For the United States, Julia Mancuso was seventh, while Resi Stiegler was 10th and Caroline Lalive 13th.

Kostelic grabbed her right knee after crossing the finish line. Later, the 21-year-old skier sat at the edge of the finish area, looking far from overjoyed.

“It’s not a big injury but it was painful,” she said. “I was trying not to think about it. I was really tired, thinking: ‘When will this day finally end?”‘

Kostelic was on painkillers Monday after hurting her knee in practice. The injury apparently worsened during the morning downhill, where she finished 12th, 0.67 seconds off the pace.

Kostelic won the combined at the Olympics last year, plus two more golds and a silver. She became the first Alpine skier to win four medals at a single Olympics.

Kostelic, the dominant slalom skier the past few seasons, finished with a total time of 2 minutes, 41.63 seconds. She was 0.17 behind Hosp after the first slalom run but raced a virtually error-free second leg to win by 0.06. Oester was 2.20 behind.

In the combined, times from the downhill and the two slalom runs are added.

Kostelic has 18 victories on the World Cup circuit, including an eight-race slalom streak. She won four races this season and one combined before the worlds.

Kostelic said she may have initially injured her knee in a January giant slalom crash in Bormio, Italy. She said the pain set in while training off the slope leading to the championships.

“Something happened and it started to be very painful,” she said.

Kostelic is uncertain whether she will be able to compete in the technical events later this week.

“I’ll have to rest and see how the knee works,” she said. “Then we’ll decide before the giant slalom Friday.”

The 19-year-old Hosp shared first place in this season’s opening giant slalom. She had three other top-three finishes in her first full season on the circuit.

“I certainly never would have expected it before this season, and certainly not before the world championships,” she said.

Defending champion and Olympic bronze medalist Martina Ertl of Germany was sixth.

Today is an off day for all racers, with the men’s giant slalom Wednesday. Bode Miller of Franconia, N.H., looks to make U.S. racing history, chasing his third medal of the championships. No other U.S. man has earned more than two medals at a single championships. Christin Cooper holds the U.S. mark with three, which she collected at the 1982 championships in Schladming, Austria.