Mendes in World Cup race today |

Mendes in World Cup race today

Michael Traum

Jonna Mendes makes her World Cup debut today at Mammoth Mountain.

After a roller-coaster couple of days, when Mendes was in, then out and then a forerunner, she was just arriving at Mammoth on Wednesday night when she found out the good news.

“When I got here, one of the racers walked up to me and said, ‘Good luck tomorrow.’ I was like, huh?” Mendes said Wednesday on the phone.

And when she went to retrieve her mountain credentials, a U.S. Team coach handed her a bib and start place – 48th. She’ll be one of seven Americans in the race.

“I couldn’t believe that. After all that happened, I’m racing. Can you believe it?” she said. “I don’t even have all of my stuff. But I’ll be ready (today).”

The U.S. Ski Team “C” member has had an up-and-down season – up the hill on a chairlift and back down it very, very fast. Her performances have definitely warranted World Cup consideration.

She was fourth in the super-G and seventh in the giant slalom at the Junior Worlds in Austria on Feb. 22-28. The super-G result was the top American finish, and she also had the second-fastest downhill time before a fall.

In addition, she had two GS second places and two super-G seconds in eight FIS races while in Europe.

And at just 17 years old, she’s ranked No. 1 in the world for her age group.

So when the 1996-97 schedule of World Cup races came out, the super-G event at Mammoth on March 6-7 looked to be an opportune time for the South Shore resident to make her debut in the “big show.”

“Since August, I knew it was in Mammoth. I’ve been planning on it and working for it all year,” Mendes said. “The super-G is my best event. A top-30 finish would be amazing. I’m totally going to go for it.”

Heavenly Ski Foundation coach Noel Dufty, along with many of Mendes’ family and friends, will attend her world-stage debut.

“She’s going to be there one day. She’s the real deal. It might as well start now,” Dufty said.

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