World Cup ski racing begins at Park City, Utah |

World Cup ski racing begins at Park City, Utah

PARK CITY, Utah – World Cup ski racing went off with a bang – and plenty of snow – as Swiss skier Sonja Nef took the opening race in the states.

The four-race America’s Opening traditionally marks the start to the race season, and is the only spot on the tour where men and women converge on the same site. Last year, marked the first time in 13 winters that races couldn’t be held due La Nina’s revenge.

Team USA got points when Kristen Clark claimed 26th place after a blazing

first run that started in the weeds of the 64th spot.

Tahoe City racer Julia Mancuso, didn’t fare so well in this debut of her sophomore World Cup year. The 16 year-old skied out early into her first run.

“I was pretty relaxed in the start, a lot more than ever before,” Mancuso said. “I was nervous when I was slipping the course; I didn’t think this hill was ever this steep. Then when I started racing, it actually wasn’t so bad.

“It really hasn’t hit me yet [skiing out], but Kirsten came down and qualified. I know I can ski with her, so it’s a little frustrating.”

Mancuso spent her summer training and attending school at Park City’s Winter Sports School. On Friday she graduates from the high school that offers classes spring, summer and fall for winter athletes. Then she’s free to focus on the competition season.

Marjan Cernigoj, head women’s coach, plans to run Mancuso in a mix of World Cup, Europa Cup and Nor-Am races.

“With coaching now, we want to help her gain confidence,” Cernigoj said. “Her next race will be the slalom on Saturday, but her slalom is not at the level of her GS (Mancuso is ranked #1 junior in the US for both GS and super G). What we expect is just her best performance. We’re not looking so much at results.”

Still, the young Mancuso keeps racking up results. She ended last season as the overall champion of the Nor-Am series. Last week at a Super Series (Nor-Am) slalom race in Loveland, Colo., she placed 15th against a largely World Cup-caliber field.

“I didn’t do very well the first day of slalom, but I felt really good on the second day. I just trusted myself,” Mancuso said.

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