Mendes scores career-best in Super G
South Shore’s own Jonna Mendes joined a pack of excellent American finishes in a busy weekend of ski racing. While the men toiled away on speed events at Lake Louise, Canada, the women contested super-G and slalom in Aspen, Colo.
Mendes, 21, scored the highest place for Team USA, with her career-best finish in the lucky 13th spot.
“This is a really good start to the season for me – to have personal best in the first race. Last year was a really bad year for me in super-G, where my best result was a 19th,” she said.
The win went to the No. 2 racer overall from last season, Austria’s Michaela Dorfmeister (1 minute, 21.01 seconds). Veterans from France and Switzerland, Regine Cavagnoud (1:21.30) and Corinne Rey Billet (1:21.31) rounded out the podium.
Mendes scored her one run in a time of 1:22.23, after starting in the 42nd
Teammate, Caroline LaLive of Steamboat Springs, Colo., in 19th took the only other top 30 American finish with her time of 1:22.91.
There was a fairly even playing field, since the women’s circuit hadn’t landed at Aspen Mountain since the 1987-88 season. Few of the current female racers had ever seen the course, Mendes included.
“We had three free runs on the hill the day before,” Mendes said, “plus inspection the day of the race, and that was it. But the course was great. The top is semi-steep, with big sweeping turns, then it flattens out for just a second. The next section is super steep, which is where a lot of the girls had trouble.”
Mendes is in her fifth season on the US Ski Team; her best event is the illustrious downhill, where she has a world ranking of 28th. Her rank in super-G is 45th.
To get rid of pre-first-race jitters, Mendes raced in a Super Series (Nor-Am) event this past Monday at Winter Park, Colo. The giant slalom race brought in a hefty field of European racers, visiting the States for World Cup. With a win from Austrian veteran, Anita Wachter, Mendes still scored a prestigious “front page” result.
“I started in 38th and ended up 15th, so it was a success. I wasn’t pleased
with my skiing, but my result was good, so that means great things. I’m really happy I raced in the GS, because it just made Aspen smoother and less stressful for me,” Mendes said.
Other top American results over the weekend included Kristina Koznick of Burnsville, Minn., strongly in third and Sarah Schleper of Vail, Colo., 12th in the Aspen slalom.
To the north, Chad Fleischer of Vail, Colo., came back well after losing last season to a rotator cuff injury – he was fifth in the Lake Louise downhill. Truckee’s Daron Rahlves placed 21st, followed by Chris Puckett of Boulder, Colo., in 23rd.
Sunday’ super-G for the men had Rahlves as top American in 13th, Fleischer claiming 20th, Bode Miller of Franconia, N.H., in 22nd and the other Puckett – brother Casey – hanging onto top-30 points in 29th.
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