Clark Leads Five U.S. Skiers into Top 25

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Cartina D'Ampezzo, Italy Jan. 25., 2002 (USSA)--Hilde Gerg of Germany, starting two racers later, zipped over soft snow to overtake Austrian Renate Goetschl by one-hundredth of a second Friday for the 14th win of her career, her third in the last two weeks. Kirsten Clark (Raymond, ME) led five U.S. racers in the top 25, finishing 16th.

Eight inches of snow during Thursday and into the night softened conditions for the women's annual stop in Cortina "but they did a decent job getting it ready for the race," said U.S. downhill Head Coach Jim Tracy. "We just made some small mistakes that cost us. I'm pleased with where we are, though, and how close the girls are to better success."

Gerg, the 1998 Olympic slalom gold medalist who no longer skis slalom--except in a combined event--following a leg injury two years ago, won two downhills in Saalbach, Austria, Jan. 11-12. Friday, running ninth behind Goetschl starting No. 7, the German won with a time of 1:17.20.

Clark was 16th in 1:18.30 while Jonna Mendes (Heavenly, CA) was 19th, Caroline Lalive (Steamboat Springs, CO) 20th, Katie Monahan (Aspen, CO) 21st and World Cup rookie Julia Mancuso (Squaw Valley, CA) 22nd. Picabo Street (Park City, UT) was 33rd with Lindsey C. Kildow (Vail, CO) skiing off course.

"It was a little disappointing but everyone was attacking," Tracy said. "Our execution could've been better but we're getting closer to the podium, certainly to the top 10. They can see they're as good as the others."

He said Kildow, running 50th in her first trip to Cortina, was hading for World Cup points when she made a mistake on the lower half of the course and became one of the10 DNFs. "But Lindsey's learning, an doing well. This is a big mountain and it's her fist time here; Julia was here for the first time last season and today she was 22nd. You can see the potential in those two..."

The women ski downhill Saturday and complete their weekend Sunday with giant slalom.