ST. MORITZ, Switzerland Feb. 3, 2003 (AP by Nesha Starcevic)--Michaela Dorfmeister of Austria edged Americans Kirsten Clark and Jonna Mendes to win the super giant slalom Monday at the world championships.
The U.S. women made a surprisingly strong showing after failing to record a top-three finish in the Super G this season on the World Cup circuit.
After just two races at the world championships, the Americans have three medals _ one short of the proclaimed goal for the entire two weeks. Bode Miller shared the silver in a Super G on Sunday.
Clark finished 0.02 seconds behind the winner and Mendes took the bronze, trailing the Austrian by 0.15 seconds.
In other U.S. results, Caroline Lalive went off course and failed to finish a race for the ninth straight time at the Olympics or worlds, and Julia Mancuso came in 21st.
On a sunny and windy day, Dorfmesiter was timed in 1 minute, 27.48 seconds on the Engiadina course for her second world title. She won the downhill two years ago.
Breaking into tears, she kissed the snow, her skis, her fist and punched the air.
"It was a dream start to the championship," said Dorfmeister, who captured the Super G bronze medal at the 1999 worlds in Vail, Colo.
The Austrian had not won another Super G this season, finishing third in Val d'Isere, France, at the beginning of December.
She was a Super G silver medalist at the 1998 Olympics and the winner of the overall World Cup title last season.
Austria has swept the two Super G races, the opening events of the worlds. Stephan Eberharter won the men's race, and Hermann Maier shared the silver with Miller.
Clark's previous best Super G results this season were fourth-place finishes in Aspen, Colo., and Lake Louise, Alberta.
"To be finally standing on the podium at a world championship means a lot," Clark said. "I knew I was capable of doing something today."
Clark, of Raymond, Maine, has been strong in the downhill all season.
"The key was good inspection of the run," she said. "And I had a good course report from the coaches, changing my line a little bit and just charging."
Mendes, of Heavenly, Calif., had a previous best this season of eighth place in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy.
With two Canadians, Genevieve Simard and Melanie Turgeon, finishing fourth and sixth, North Americans had four racers in the top six. Alexandra Meissnitzer of Austria was fifth.
Carole Montillet of France, the Olympic downhill champion, finished 14th. Montillet had been hoping to succeed late teammate Regine Cavagnoud, killed in a crash during practice in October 2001, is the only champion from two years ago not competing in St. Moritz.
Olympic champion Daniela Ceccarelli of Italy failed to finish, sliding off the course. Copyright (c) 2000 The Associated Press