Clark Wins Second Title at Nationals

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Jackson Hole, WY Mar. 26 (AP by John Mossman)--Kirsten Clark maintained her mastery of Jackson Hole mountain, adding a super-G title Sunday to the downhill crown she won two days earlier at the U.S. Alpine Ski Championships.

Skiing confidently and with no major mistakes, Clark, of Raymond, Maine, won easily, beating Julia Mancuso, 16, of Tahoe City, Calif., by more than a second.

Clark, who cracked the top 10 for the first time on the World Cup circuit with a ninth-place finish last month in a downhill at Santa Caterina, Italy, was timed in 1 minute, 23.50 seconds.

Mancuso, coming off a standout season on the Nor Am circuit, finished in 1:24.66.

Caroline Lalive of Steamboat Springs, Colo., took third at 1:24.87.

The defending national super-G champion, Katie Monahan of Aspen, Colo., is recuperating from a knee injury and did not compete.

``I made a few tactical mistakes but nothing major,'' Clark said. ``I was a little low on my line, but I didn't panic and I just held and just kept going. It was a good run, for sure.

``The course was very rhythmical and was a lot of fun.''

Clark benefited from the absence of her two main competitors. Jonna Mendes is sidelined with a broken right thumb sustained at Nor Ams two weeks ago, and Alison Powers is out after bruising the right side of her face when she crashed into the fence in Thursday's FIS downhill.

Clark also won the national downhill on this course in 1998, giving her three titles here.

``I guess this hill agrees with me,'' she said.

She feels at home in Jackson. Her brother, Sean, is coach of the Jackson Hole Ski Club, and her parents and her dog, Cutter, are with her.

Mancuso, who was the overall champion on the Nor Am circuit this season and who started 52nd but finished fourth in the super-G in the world juniors, said the snow, made soft by warm temperatures, created problems for some skiers.

``It was soft,'' she said, ``not quite ideal conditions. I got late in some places. I wasn't quite on top of it, but I carried my speed.''

Unlike many other young skiers, Mancuso isn't intimidated by the nationals or her competition.

Asked what her expectations were in this race, Mancuso said, ``Top five is probably what I expected. But definitely my goal was to win. That's a long-term goal, a fast-track goal. It would have to be an amazing run.''

Copyright © 2000 The Associated Press