Mendes 13th in super-G in Switzerland
LENZERHEIDE, Switzerland – Jonna Mendes capped a successful weekend by the U.S. women’s ski team by finishing 13th in a super-G Sunday.
Mendes’ time of 1:37.92 was third among Americans. Megan Gerety of Anchorage, Alaska, was sixth with a 1:37.07 clocking and Kirsten Clark of Raymond, Maine – Saturday’s downhill victor – earned a spot in World Cup Finals by finishing seventh in the 1:37.38.
Two-time world super G champion Isolde Kostner earned her third victory of the winter as she won by .08 over reigning World Cup overall champion Renate Goetschl of Austria.
Kostner, whose two previous wins this season were in downhill, was timed in 1:36.61 with Goetschl – who skied three starts later – finishing in 1:36.69. France’s Carole Montillet was third in 1:36.74.
U.S. Downhill/SG coach Jim Tracy said Gerety missed World Cup Finals next month in Are, Sweden, by five points and Mendes missed by seven points. “There aren’t any waivers – they go strictly by top-25 points,” he said, adding that was why Olympic SG champion Picabo Street, who returned this season after two years on the sidelines with multiple leg injuries, didn’t qualify in downhill. She was 26th, two points behind teammate Alison Powers of Winter Park, CO, whose season ended early with a knee injury. “Everybody counts, so ‘Powie’ is 25th and Peek’s 26th,” according to Tracy.
Mendes, however, did qualify for the World Cup Finals in downhill, along with teammates Clark, Gerety and Caroline Lalive. Lalive also qualified in slalom
and Kristina Koznick of Burnsville, Minn., and Sarah Schleper of Vail, Colo., qualified in slalom and giant slalom.
In Sunday’s race, the coach said the weather was similar to Saturday’s when early skiers – Clark skied fifth – got sunshine and most of the field went through flat light.
“It was (about 1 degree) this morning … the girls did a good job, but a couple of small mistakes cost ’em,” Tracy said. “Megan got a little low in one turn at the bottom and that killed her speed for the finish, and Jonna had a mistake at about the same place and it cost her, too.
“We’re disappointed about missing [SG] finals, but it’s still been good. We made good progress.”
On Saturday in Lenzerheide, Clark collected her first World Cup victory by winning a downhill.
“I definitely made some mistakes in the training runs, but I watched videos and I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I talked it over with the coaches, and I just executed,” said a jubilant Clark.
It was the first U.S. women’s downhill win since Hilary Lindh took the downhill gold medal to close the 1997 World Championships, the first World Cup victory since Street won in Narvik, Norway, at the end of the ’96 season as she clinched her second World Cup downhill crown.
Coincidentally, Street had her best result Saturday in nearly three years, coming out of No. 37 start to finish seventh.
New snow and fog shutdown training Thursday and Friday after two training runs Wednesday. An overnight cold front, though, helped solidify course conditions and Clark, who skied fifth, tore through the snow with a nearly flawless run to win in 1:27.07.
Regine Cavagnoud of France, who won super-G gold at the recent World Championships, was runner-up in 1:27.41 and Petra Haltmayer of Germany, whose first World Cup win came earlier this season in a downhill at Lake Louise, was third with a 1:27.71 clocking.
Clark, 23,, led three U.S. skiers into the top 10. In addition to Street in seventh (1:27.87), Gerety finished eighth in 1:27.92.
Mendes was 22nd in 1:28.86.
“It was exciting. I stayed until the last skier came down,” Clark said, “and I said, ‘Well, I guess it’s real’ … definitely very exciting. It was a good feeling.”
She said there was no magical breakthrough with the victory. That had come, she said, “in St. Anton when I won the combined downhill (at worlds) and realized I could win a downhill. This just adds to the confidence.”
“This was so awesome,” Tracy said. “When we were going out, (coach) Marjan Cernigoj and I were saying maybe we didn’t get much luck with Jonna (skiing No. 2) and Clarky (No. 5) going early. But the organizers did a great job preparing the course and when it go colder, the course set up nicely. If you got off-course, like Jonna did in a couple of spots, and like Megan did in one spot, the snow was like glue, but otherwise the course was great.”
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