Mancuso season-best 13th in downhill; Tim Jitloff leads U.S. team on birthday
ALTENMARKT – ZAUCHENSEE, Austria — Squaw Valley skier Julia Mancuso punched her best Alpine World Cup downhill result of the Olympic season with a 13th-place finish to lead four U.S. Ski Team athletes into the Zauchensee top 25 on Saturday.
Elisabeth Goergl ended a two-year downhill victory draught for Austrian women with a stunning win ahead of teammate Anna Fenninger.
Mancuso returned to the tour after a planned trip home. She missed the Lienz, Austria, and Bormio, Italy, slalom races. Saturday’s race was held with only one training run after Friday’s session was canceled due to heavy snow.
“We’ve skied here a lot. It’s definitely nice, but especially right now with how I’m feeling on my equipment, I would like more training runs,” Mancuso said. “But racing is racing and the snow was forgiving. It was soft. It wasn’t too gnarly anywhere. It was fun.”
Truckee’s Stacey Cook finished 22nd, Laurenne Ross was 23rd and Leanne Smith was 25th. Julia Ford and Jackie Wiles, both two-time U.S. downhill champions, finished 34th and 39th, respectively.
“I finally have some really good splits. I was one mistake away from being in the top 10 and having a really good result, so it’s really positive,” Mancuso said. “It was nice to go home and get a little time with my trainer and just kind of refocus and know that all the tools are there and it’s really now just about believing that I can ski well and go fast.”
The next day, Ross finished 20th in the only women’s super combined before the Olympics.
Skiing through a thick patch of fog in the opening super G, Ross was 24th in the first run, but the weather cleared for the final and allowed Marie-Michele Gagnon of Canada to capture the first Alpine World Cup victory of her career.
Mancuso was in third until a mistake on the lower part of the super G caused her to miss a gate. Cook, Smith and Ford also missed gates in the opening super G.
Tim Jitloff top U.S. finisher in Adelboden GS
ADELBODEN, Switzerland — On his 29th birthday, Truckee’s Tim Jitloff finished 24th to lead the American contingent in an Alpine World Cup giant slalom in Adelboden, Switzerland on Saturday.
Jitloff, who matched his career-best with a fifth-place finish in the last GS, unfortunately entered the race coming off a sickness.
“So my energy today is not what it should be,” he said. “But I do have confidence and that plays a lot too. No question, after you get a good day like Alta-Badia, you know you can do it for real and today without that mistake I was right in there again.”
Defending Adelboden champion Ted Ligety, meanwhile, was struck by bad luck when a rut bounced his left ski to the inside of a turning gate, causing the World Champion to crash in the giant slalom final run. Ligety, who was third after the opening run, was poised for the podium before spinning down the course.
“I feel like I was starting to ski OK and find the rhythm of the course and then just crappy bad luck and just bounced into the gate a little bit unexpectedly,” Ligety said. “That’s just part of ski racing, but it’s a kick in the groin, that’s for sure.”
Bode Miller crashed in the opening run, while Brennan Rubie and Kieffer Christianson missed qualifying for the top 30 final.
It was the last World Cup GS to be held within the 2014 Olympic Winter Games qualification period. The Olympic U.S. Alpine Ski Team will be named Jan. 26.
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