Mancuso earns bronze medal |

Mancuso earns bronze medal

AP photo Olympic Valley's Julia Mancuso watches her competitors finish their runs.

SANTA CATERINA, Italy (Feb. 8) – In an improbable sequence, Julia Mancuso, of Olympic Valley, stormed out of seventh place in the first run of giant slalom Tuesday to collect her second bronze medal of the World Alpine Ski Championships, finishing third behind Swedish great Anja Paerson.

Running on a second course set by her father and trainer, Anders, Paerson ” the super G champion on Jan. 30 and GS defending champion ” lost some time on the second run, but held onto her first-run lead. It’s her second gold of the championships and came in an unofficial 2:13.63.

Tanja Poutiainen gave Finland its first medal, taking silver in 2:13.82 while Mancuso, the super G bronze medalist, brought home the fifth medal for the U.S. Ski Team with a time of 2:14.27.

How much did it help Mancuso relax to have come seventh in the first run? “Well, first run I was just making mistakes left and right, and I was a little crazy,” Mancuso said. “I knew if i had a good second run and tried not to make so many mistakes, and pointed ’em [her Rossignols] down the hill, that it would be better.”

She explained, “First run I was just of running with a mindset that I would just go straight and it didn’t matter. Just charge. And I found myself boot-topping some GS gates and I wasn’t that very fast because you’re supposed to do that in slalom, not GS.”

When she came down in first place in the second run, Mancuso stood on the TV spot in the finish area and waited to get knocked off. German Martina Ertl couldn’t touch her. Canadian Genevieve Simard didn’t. Italian Karen Putzer lost speed at the bottom and came in behind her. All of a sudden, a medal was within reach.

“It was really exciting [standing in first],” Mancuso said, “and then I thought, ‘I’m gonna end up fourth with the U.S. Ski Team curse'” that afflicted Kildow, who was a near-miss fourth in both combined and downhill.

Still, Mancuso was pleased with her skiing as she watched the challengers take a shot at her time. “But today was really different because I felt in super G [Jan. 30] things were happening for me and I had a little bit of luck. Today, I really skied and did it myself. First run, I was making a lot of mistakes and then second run I was smooth…

“Ertl’s an awesome skier. When she came down and was that close – but behind me, I thought the others would be close, too, but they weren’t.”

When she was bronze medalist in super G, Mancuso turned and didn’t watch the last racers. Kirsten Clark (Raymond, ME) did play-by-play, describing her challengers’ run. Tuesday, though, Clark was heading home after being sidelined by sickness and missing her downhill start Sunday.

“Nikki came down and I didn’t watch. Nobody did play-by-play. I waited it out,” Mancuso said.

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