Mendes misses finals |

Mendes misses finals

Jonna Mendes has painstakingly worked her way into the upper tier of the World Cup women’s downhill standings.

But on Sunday, the most important day of her skiing season, the South Lake Tahoe racer’s rising status on the World Cup circuit worked against her.

Needing a high finish to qualify for the World Cup Finals, the 20-year-old Mendes placed 25th in a season-ending downhill at Lenzerheide, Switzerland. But it was her hard-earned starting position – 28th – that may have deprived the 20-year-old of her first trip to the first World Cup Finals.

Many of the top racers, including Mendes, started with temperatures at a bone-locking zero degrees. But the less-established racers, who usually suffer from course deterioration from their poor starting positions, actually benefited as temperatures warmed significantly and made the course faster.

“(Sunday) was probably one of the weirdest days in the history of the downhill,” Mendes said. “From the first woman to the last, the course speed changed so much that only three of the top women were in the top 15. Most of the top-ranked women were so far back that they left the race early because they were so mad.”

Mendes, who needed to vault from 27th place to the top 25 to qualify for the finals in downhill, actually felt she had a good performance going when she crossed the finish line 13th from her No. 28 starting position.

“I didn’t realize that I had skied so well until well after the race, and it hit pretty hard,” said Mendes, who finished 28th in the final downhill standings, 27 points behind 25th-and-final qualifier Caroline Montillet of France.

Mendes skied the course in 151.03 seconds, well off the winning pace of Corinne Imlig of Switzerland (148.66).

“I’m going to leave feeling good about myself because this really was a breakthrough year for me, and I’m proud of my accomplishments.”

The 20-year-old Mendes vows not to let her World Cup Finals-qualifying status to hinge on the final race next year.

“I am now in the top seed, which is where I wanted to be, and next year when I come back, qualifying for the World Cup Finals will not be a consideration because I’m going to be in the top 15.”

Mendes is scheduled to fly home today.

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