March 17, 2007
LENZERHEIDE, SWITZERLAND - (USST News Bureau Release) - Julia Mancuso (Olympic Valley, CA) finished 16th Saturday in the last slalom of the season to reamain in third position for the World Cup overall title. Austrian Nicole Hosp won and took over the lead when teammate Marlies Schild uncharacteristically missed gates on her final run and also finished out of the points.
WCSN.com will broadcast same-day streaming video of the race starting at noon ET.
Hosp took the first-run lead at World Cup Finals with Schild, the World Cup slalom champion, right behind her. But on her final run, Schild missed a couple of gates and, although she hiked to stay in the course, finished 19th - and points are awarded to only the top 15 at Finals.
Hosp's winning time was 1:45.67, giving her 1,472 points heading into Sunday's final race, a giant slalom. Schild has 1,442 points. Former overall champ Anja Paerson was second (1:45.95) and moved into fifth place overall, dropping the injured Lindsey Kildow (Vail, CO) to sixth. Resi Stiegler (Jackson Hole, WY) was 11th while Kaylin Richardson (Edina, MN) failed to finish her first run.
Mancuso finished 19th in the first run and posting the 11th-fastest time as she skied second on the final run. Her total time of 1:49.49 put her in 16th place, out of the points and mathematically eliminated from the overall hunt.
Last U.S. winner was before Mancuso was born
In her bid to become the first U.S. women's overall champion since Tamara McKinney in 1983 - a year before Mancuso was born, she stayed with the leaders until Saturday's race. The Olympic GS champion, she has 1,332 points going into Sunday's final giant slalom.
Mancuso underwent hip surgery last April and missed substantial preseason training time. However, she caught fire in December and has gone on to win the first four World Cup races of her career and posted a half-dozen other top-3 results.
"I have plenty of years ahead of me," she rationalized at the finish. "Entering the season I wasn't even thinking about the top three overall, coming into it. People were always whispering here or there, 'You're an overall skier, what's your chances of the overall?'
"I was eighth last year, so just moving up to be third is really cool and I'm excited about that."
Losing, for all intents, the first few races of the season as she got into racing condition and mindset, hobbled her final shot at the title, but Mancuso already is charting a way to win for the 2008 season.
Mancuso patient, optimistic
"I knew it was possible and I knew it would be tough, and I was looking forward to skiing exceptional," she said. "You can't be like 'Oh, I just need to hang in there'. I was, like, 'I need to have my best races again at the end of the season.' I've got plenty of years to hopefully step it up at the beginning of the season, so I don't have to fight as hard at the end of the year."
Stiegler said he skied more conservatively than normal on her first run and then wanted to make certain she finished her final run. She said she plans to ski all races at the Nature Valley U.S. alpine Championships later this month at Alaska's Alyeska resort and then join Mancuso and British skier Chemmy Alcott for a vacation in Thailand.
Slalom/GS Head Coach Chris Knight said the lack of slalom training - while further honing her talents elsewhere - hurt, but she's young and resilient and highly competitive, all of which are cause for optimism.
"Actully, Julia skied better than she did a week ago in Zwiesel (Germany, where she was 24th in a slalom). Her second run was pretty good, but she'd left so much room from the first run (2.7 seconds out) and couldn't make it up. It's really just a lack of training; this summer, she'll have more time to work on her slalom - don't forget she lost last summer because of the hip surgery..."
He said Stiegler had majorr mistakes at the top and bottom of her second run "and, really, I think she was focusing on getting to the finish and getting a result. It wasn't her race; we've seen her do so much better but she's tired. She and Kaylin have been doing a lot of speed (downhill, super G) this season, too, so they're pretty fried at this point. It's been a long season for both of them and this was Resi's final World Cup, so I can understand her wanting to make sure she had a finish.
The final women's race, the GS, is Saturday with first run at 5 a.m. ET and second run at 7:30 a.m. ET.