Mancuso podiums twice
USSA and AP reports
CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, Italy – Two-time Olympian Julia Mancuso, amped by her boy-friend’s fourth-place finish in Germany, grabbed her second World Cup skiing podium in 24 hours Saturday.
The Tahoe City woman was five-hundredths of a second behind Austrian Renate Goetschl in a weather-delayed downhill that saw four U.S. women break into the top 15 in the last speed race before the Olympics.
Mancuso collected her first career World Cup podium on Friday with a runner-up finish in super-G.
Goetschl won with a time of 1:09.64 while Mancuso broke up a podium sweep by the Austrians in 1:09.69. Completing the top three was Elisabeth Goergl (1:09.94). It was Goetschl’s first win this season, the eighth of her career in Cortina and the 38th overall, putting her third on the women’s victories list.
“I don’t know what it is over here, but I love it in Italy,” Mancuso said, not only referring to her back-to-back top-2s but her two bronze medals (super-G and giant slalom) at the 2005 World Championships in Bormio, Italy.
Lindsey Kildow of Vail, Colo., was ninth with Kirsten Clark of Raymond, Maine, 12th, and Stacey Cook of Truckee 15th. The snow, which had fallen for two days, forced organizers to delay the race three hours and then drop the start to the super-G start on the Olympia delle Tofane course.
Jonna Mendes, who struggled to a 45th-place in Friday’s super-G, was 42nd in the “downhill.”
Mancuso’s second straight podium topped the fourth-place finish by boyfriend Steve Nyman, who was racing downhill in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. It was the best result of his young career.
“It got sunnier as the race went on through the day, starting about 15, 16,” said Mancuso, who ran 26th, four ahead of Goetschl. “The snow was clear, pretty light stuff. Yeah, another powder day in Tahoe. I’m into nice grippy snow, too, though, but I think I’d’ve had a rough day in Garmisch. I was so psyched – I got to see his run on TV while we were delayed, but I didn’t know the outcome. It looked pretty rattly, pretty tough.”
During inspection, she said, the racers felt the course – with its several more inches of new snow, which began falling at nightfall Thursday – could be a problem.
“We didn’t know if we’d be racing, so it was fun to be out there; all the coaches from the teams and the course workers and everyone did a really good job again. I was thinking it would be really bad,” Mancuso said.
“I couldn’t tell how fast I was going. I was charging hard and it was a good surprise when I got the finish and saw I was leading.”
DH Coach Alex Hoedlmoser was impressed with Mancuso’s results.
“Julia did an amazing job,” he said. “She totally nailed it after her course report, whatever it was. We were telling her to stay in that tuck and I think when she crossed the finish line she may have needed some help getting out of her tuck, she was so low. She’s got so much confidence now.”
Kildow, who had been third Friday in the super G, lost time at the top “and on one of the big turns, but then we skied the bottom very well again.
Clark was in the hunt for top 10 and she got late on the bottom and got out into some soft snow, so that was it for her,” Hoedlmoser said, “I’m really happy for Stacey to get back in there. She’s been struggling a little, but she skied well today and that should give her confidence for the Olympics.”
Anja Paerson was the only racer to top Mancuso on Friday in the super-G.
“I knew coming here I felt good, I knew if I got down I was going to be fast,” Paerson said.
A snowstorm delayed the start of the race for 2 1/2 hours and made for poor visibility. Paerson struggled to see through tears caused by the weather and was forced to rely largely on her intuition.
“I just trusted my skis and told myself, ‘Don’t worry about the snow, you’re not going to see it anyway,”‘ Paerson said.
Paerson covered the Olympia delle Tofane course in 1 minute, 16.75 seconds. Mancuso finished 0.34 seconds behind, and Kildow was 0.78 back.
Several skiers crashed – many of them on a tricky final jump – and nine skiers did not finish.
It was Paerson’s fifth win this season and her first in super-G since taking the gold medal at last season’s world championships. It gave her wins in all four disciplines for the second consecutive season.
Mancuso finally finished on the podium following four fourth-place finishes the past two seasons. She won two bronze medals at last season’s world championships.
“World championships and Olympics are more prestigious events, but I feel more confident having a podium on the World Cup,” Mancuso said.
Mancuso has Italian origins and was asked after the race if she would ever consider gaining Italian citizenship to help the struggling Italian women’s team.
“Italy will always be part of my roots, but I’m a California girl,” Mancuso said.
It was the second time two American women finished on the podium this season. Kildow and Caroline Lalive finished 1-2 in a downhill at Val d’Isere on Dec. 17.
Kildow is looking to the Olympics, too.
“World Cups are important because you have to ski well and gain confidence for the Olympics,” Kildow said. “You have to have other goals besides the Olympics because the Olympics is only one race.”
On Sunday, Austrian Nicole Hosp earned her first victory of the season, winning a giant slalom. Genevieve Simard of Canada was second, .31 seconds behind, and Elisabeth Goergl of Austria was third to match her result from Saturday’s downhill.
Mancuso capped an impressive weekend with a fifth-place finish. It was her best result in the discipline this season.
“I haven’t had the best results in GS so I was just trying to do my best,” she said. “I didn’t push it too much because I think a semi-decent finish is important for me. We have two more GS races next weekend, but this will just give me a little more confidence.”
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