Mancuso 8th in Aspen giant slalom | SierraSun.com

Mancuso 8th in Aspen giant slalom

U.S. Ski Team report

Nathan Bilow / AP PhotoJulia Mancuso of Squaw Valley rides the edges of her skis to the second-fastest time in the first run of the Women's World Cup giant slalom in Aspen, Colo., on Saturday.

ASPEN, Colo. and#8212; Three-time Olympic medalist Julia Mancuso of Squaw Valley showed she has the speed to return to the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup giant slalom podium, as she finished eighth Saturday to lead the U.S. at the Visa Aspen Winternational.

France’s Tessa Worley produced a blistering second run, jumping seven spots to make it two Aspen wins in three years.

Sarah Schleper of Vail, Colo., also bagged some World Cup points with an 18th-place finish, while three-time World Cup overall winner Lindsey Vonn of Vail skied out in the opening run.

An overflowing sunglassed crowd roared as Mancuso rocketed to second in the opening run, just three-hundredths behind leader and Olympic gold medalist Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany. A small mistake at the top of the course slowed Mancuso enough to keep her off the Aspen podium, despite making up time through the bottom of the course.

and#8220;I remembered from the training session last time that you have to charge down the pitch through all the rolls,and#8221; said Mancuso, the 2006 Olympic GS champion. and#8220;I skied pretty consistent with one small mistake in the middle, but then I really picked it up again towards the finish. All in all it was a good run. It’s a fine balance between charging hard and taking it easy to finish.and#8221;

The tricky Aspen set grabbed Vonn yet again as her skis locked up on the grippy snow and bounced her off course. The Olympic champion immediately turned her focus to Sunday’s slalom and#8212; in which she finished eighth and#8212; by heading back onto the snow after the race to train.

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and#8220;I just went a little too straight today and got a little too excited and amped up,and#8221; Vonn said. and#8220;I wasn’t using the greatest tactics, but that sometimes happens in ski racing. I’m definitely disappointed in today but I’m still optimistic. My training has been going really well both in GS and slalom so I’m just looking forward to the next race and trying to stay positive and keep working hard.and#8221;

Joining Mancuso in the second run was Schleper, who was laying down a solid run before a minor speed check bounced her coming onto the flats.

and#8220;The last three years I’ve been right around the top-20,and#8221; said Schleper. and#8220;I want to start getting top-15s, top-10s. I want to get back into that routine.and#8221;

Mancuso left the gate on fire in the second run, before a losing her balance on bump in almost the exact spot as Schleper.

and#8220;I had a little problem on top and I felt like I lost my ski,and#8221; Mancuso explained. and#8220;It was hard to get back in mentally. It was something in my head and I backed off.and#8221;

Americans Megan McJames and Laurenne Ross failed to qualify for a second run, while Leanne Smith skied off course.

Mancuso did not finish Sunday’s slalom.