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Mancuso Takes World Juniors Combined Gold


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MARIBOR, Slovenia Feb. 15 2004 (USST) – Julia Mancuso (Olympic Valley, CA/Squaw Valley Ski Team/U.S.A Team) finished sixth in slalom Sunday and clinched the combined gold medal at the World Junior Championships while first-run leader Lindsey Kildow (Vail, CO/Ski&Snowboard Club Vail/U.S. B Team) missed a second-run gate and hiked to finish her run. She was 32nd but it kept her in fourth place in combined, protecting the U.S. Ski Team’s victory for the Marc Hodler Trophy for team supremacy.

Austrian Kathrin Zettel won the slalom in 1:40.73 and earned the combined silver medal, keeping her teammates close – but still behind in the team calculation. The combined at World Juniors measures slalom, GS and downhill results. Austria and the U.S. were tied in the Hodler calculation after slalom but Mancuso and Kildow clinched it with their combined results.

Nika Fleiss of Croatia was silver medalist in 1:40.82 with Czech racer Sarka Zahrobska taking the bronze. Mancuso finished sixth with a time of 1:41.39 and Kaylin Richardson (Edina, MN/Team Gilboa/U.S. B Team) was 11th to lift her into eighth in the combined.

Mancuso scorecard: five golds, three bronzes

It’s Mancuso’s USA-record eighth World Juniors medal, one behind Germany’s Maria Riesch, who won the downhill and giant slalom but fell Sunday in the first run of SL. Mancuso — who collected combined bronze in 2001, three golds (DH/GS/combined in 2002, and super G, combined bronze in ’03 – is tied with Austrian Sabine Ginther, who won eight in 1987-89.

“It was one of those rollercoaster rides you get in slalom,” said Trevor Wagner, U.S. women’s Europa Cup coach. “Lindsey really pulled it through for the team. She went down on the fifth or sixth gate, and hiking that gate was a pretty cool thing. She knew she still could be in it for a combined medal and it was great for the team….

“We saw a lot of good skiing; the level of skiing was very high. So many of them are on the Europa Cup and it’s very competitive. It was a great week with everybody putting everything into it, putting it all on the line.”

“Julia’s gold medal was great, no question” said Walt Evans, U.S. competition director and team leader for the championships, “but Lindsey saved the day for the Hodler Trophy. She hiked that gate and that was pretty selfless because by finishing, she was fourth in combined and that saved the team trophy, which is a great tribute to the way all these kids skied.

“Gold-medal drama”
“We came here with high expectations, including getting the trophy for the second time…and today had gold-medal drama.”

The trophy – which has been won only by the U.S. and Austria since it was created in the late Nineties – is calculated on top-10 finishes during World Juniors. The U.S. had 93 points, based on top-10 finishes, while Austria had 90 with Sweden in third place (55) with Canada fourth (49).

The U.S. finished with six medals: Mancuso – combined gold and super G bronze; Kildow – downhill silver and GS bronze; Jeff Harrison (Steilacoom, WA/White Pass Ski Team/U.S. C Team) – GS gold; and Ted Ligety (Park City, UT/Park City Ski Team/U.S. Development Team) – slalom silver. The 2002 U.S. juniors won seven medals to equal the haul from the 1989 World Juniors in Alyeska, Alaska.

Maribor, SLO — Feb. 15

Women’s Slalom
1. Kathrin Zettel, Austria, 1:40.73
2. Nika Fleiss, Croatia, 1:40.82
3. Sarka Zahrobska, Czech Republic, 1:41.01
4. Therese Borssen, Sweden, 1:41.11
5. Ana Jelusic, Croatia, 1:41.37

6. Julia Mancuso, Olympic Valley/Squaw Valley Ski Team/U.S. Development Team, 1:41.39
11. Kaylin Richardson, Edina, Minn./Team Gilboa/U.S. B Team, 1:43.07
32. Lindsey Kildow, Vail, Colo./Ski&Snowboard Club Vail/U.S. B Team, 1:47.70
50. Stacey Cook, Truuckee, Calif./Mammoth Mountain Ski Team/U.S. C Team, 1:54.76
DNF-2: Resi Stiegler, Jackson Hole, Wyo./Jackson Hole Ski Team/U.S. B Team; Caitlin Ciccone, Littleton, N.H./Burke Mountain Academy/U.S. Development Team

Combined (DH/GS/SL — based on race points)
1. Mancuso
2. Zettel
3. Zahrobska

4. Kildow
8. Richardson
19. Cook