No. 1 run propels Mancuso to sixth
ST. MORITZ, Switzerland (AP) – Tahoe City’s Julia Mancuso proved she was podium worthy in a World Cup women’s giant slalom on Wednesday, but the results didn’t reflect it.
Mancuso, 23rd in the morning run, sizzled through the second run with the fastest time to finish sixth overall.
“Obviously, Julia skied well on that second run,” said U.S. Head Coach Patrick Riml. “She had the fastest time by more than half a second on the second run and it’s just a matter of time before she puts together two runs in the same race and she’s on the podium.
“Julia’s got top-10s in three events and a top-15 in downhill, so she’s doing well.”
The Americans had three other skiers in the top 25. Sarah Schleper of Vail, Colo., was 15th; Caroline Lalive of Steamboat Springs, Colo., was 20th; and Kirsten Clark of Raymond, Maine, was 25th in the 15-degree weather.
Slovenia’s Tina Maze won her second career World Cup race and defending champion Anja Paerson regained the lead in the overall standings with a second-place finish.
Maze was behind Paerson after the first run, but had a smooth, clean second run down the sun-soaked Engiadina course to finish with a combined time of 2 minutes, 26.99 seconds. Paerson finished second with an aggregate time of 2:27.11, with Marie Jose Rienda Contreras of Spain third in 2:27.73.
Mancuso’s sixth-place time was 2:28.52.
Another American skier, Kristina Koznick, crashed during the first run, skidding off the course and colliding with a gate. She had blurred vision, a bruised jaw and a 1-inch cut on her tongue. Koznick also had bruised ribs, but the U.S. team doctor said she didn’t appear to have any broken bones or torn ligaments.
Maze’s previous World Cup victory was at Soelden, Austria, in 2002, when she tied for first in a giant slalom with Norway’s Andrine Flemmen and Austrian Nicole Hosp.
“That victory came a bit early,” Maze said. “I didn’t expect that and I didn’t feel like I was the best. After that I had some bad times, ups and downs. After winning in Soelden, I didn’t qualify for the second run in GS three times in a row.
“I was in a rut. I needed time to get out. Now I feel strong and ready.”
Italy’s Karen Putzer was fourth, .93 off the pace, while Tanja Poutiainen finished a disappointing fifth and lost the overall World Cup lead to Paerson.
“Everyone is battling. Last year I was lucky, I had a good season, but this year it’s hard to stay up there,” Paerson said. “Everybody’s really fighting for it. But it’s nice to have the red bib.”
Poutiainen dropped from fourth after the opening leg and crossed the line 1.47 seconds behind Maze. The Finn had already lost ground to Paerson in Tuesday’s super-G, which she was forced to sit out because of lower back pain. Paerson finished 13th in the super-G for 20 points.
Paerson, who captured the overall title last season along with the giant slalom and slalom, now has 493 points. Poutiainen slipped to second with 486.
Croatian Janica Kostelic, making a comeback after a year off due to illness and injury, was third after the opening run but crashed during the second leg.
FLACHAU, Austria (AP) – Italy’s Giorgio Rocca won the men’s World Cup slalom on Wednesday after American Bode Miller crashed and failed to qualify for the second run.
Rocca finished with a combined time of 1 minute, 34.86 seconds, beating Austria’s Rainer Schoenfelder by 0.24 seconds. German Alois Vogl was third, 0.31 seconds behind for the first podium finish of his career.
Miller still leads the overall standings with 858 points after 15 events. Austria’s Benjamin Raich, who finished sixth Wednesday, is second with 546 points, followed by Hermann Maier with 482.
Miller was on pace for one of the fastest times in the opening run when he crashed.
It was the fourth career slalom victory for Rocca, who made his World Cup debut at Flachau eight years ago.
“The atmosphere was exciting and fighting it out with Rainer in front of such a crowd was incredible,” Rocca said after his best result this season. “To come out the winner is of course the best possible Christmas present.”
Canada’s Thomas Grandi, who won two giant slaloms in a row earlier this week, finished 12th.