Lake Tahoe’s Mancuso hoping to salvage World Cup season |

Lake Tahoe’s Mancuso hoping to salvage World Cup season

CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, Italy ” Just two seasons after she challenged for the overall World Cup title, Julia Mancuso struggles just to post top-10 finishes.

Bothered by a bad back and new equipment, the Squaw Valley skier could salvage a disappointing season with a big performance at the upcoming World Championships in Val d’Isere, France, Feb. 3-15.

“On a year where our team was stronger, I would have struggled to qualify. But none of the girls are really doing awesome besides Lindsey (Vonn), so luckily I can still do all my events,” Mancuso said Thursday after World Cup downhill training was canceled for the third straight day.

Mancuso has had only two top-10 finishes this season ” seventh in a giant slalom in Aspen, Colo., in November, and sixth in a GS in Semmering, Austria, last month.

In 2006-07, Mancuso won four races. But she has always saved her best skiing for major championships.

Before she had ever won on the World Cup tour, Mancuso took two bronze medals at the 2005 World Championships in Bormio and Santa Caterina, then took gold in giant slalom at the 2006 Turin Olympics and a silver in super-combi at the 2007 worlds in Are, Sweden.

“Yeah, it’s been good. I want to continue,” Mancuso said. “It’s always good to have a buildup, so hopefully we’ll get to race here.”

The revised schedule in Cortina calls for a downhill Saturday, a giant slalom Sunday and perhaps another race Monday.

Mancuso won a super-G here in 2007 and has posted five runner-up results over the years in downhill, super-G and giant slalom.

“I love racing in Cortina, so hopefully something will happen,” she said.

Stacey Cook, a Truckee native who skis out of Mammoth, is also hoping to race this weekend. Cook is trying to secure a spot on the U.S. downhill squad for the worlds. Only four racers make it, and Vonn, Mancuso and probably Leanne Smith of Conway, N.H, have already secured the first three spots.

Cook is a six-year veteran of the U.S. Ski Team who has posted four top-10 results in her career, including fourth in a downhill in Lake Louise, Alberta, in 2006. But her downhill results this season are 40th and 41st.

“It’s huge for me. We’ve only had two downhill this year and it’s tough to pick a team from two downhills,” Cook said. “It’s a bit frustrating. Maybe if they don’t get these races in, they can look at past results.”

Kaylin Richardson of Edina, Minn., is also itching to ski.

Citing burnout, Richardson skipped the second half of last season and is yet to score points in her return.

“Hopefully World Championships is in my future,” Richardson said. “But if not, I just have to reevaluate and say, ‘What can I do now?'”

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