Mancuso 7th, Olympic Champ Wins World Combined Gold

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ST. MORITZ, Switzerland (Feb. 10 - News Release) - Olympic champion Janica Kostelic of Croatia, cooler than the snow but hotter than the Engadin sun, sputtered in downhill and led both runs of slalom Monday to overtake Austrian Nicole Hosp for the combined gold medal at the 2003 Alpine World Ski Championships. Julia Mancuso (Olympic Valley, CA) was seventh, Resi Stiegler (Jackson Hole, WY) 10th and Caroline Lalive (Steamboat Springs, CO) 13th.

Outdoor Life Network will broadcast interviews during its World Cup highlights show Thursday night (check local listings) and NBC will televise race highlights Saturday in its two-hour show from Worlds 4-6 p.m. EST and Sunday 1-3 p.m. EST.

Kostelic was 12th in the morning downhill, .67 behind DH leader Janette Hargin of Sweden, and then methodically chewed through the two runs of slalom. She had the fastest time in each SL run, finishing with a three-run time of 2:41.63. Her second run was something Hosp - third in the downhill and the leader going into the second run of SL - couldn't match. Hosp's silver-medal time 2:41.69 while Marlies Oester of Switzerland stirred some cheering in the sparse crowd of 5,100 by taking the bronze medal, Switzerland's third medal of the championships.

Mancuso, who turns 19 next month, and Stiegler, 17 as the season opened, are competing in their first World Championships. Mancuso was 21st Monday in the women's super G; the combined was Stiegler's first race - and included just her third downhill. Each was the leading skier when she finished her second run. Mancuso just missed a chance for a spot in the evening award ceremony (where an event's top six skiers are honored) with her time of 2:45.30 while Stiegler, had the seventh-fastest first-slalom run and the fifth-fastest final run to compile a time of 2:45.65. Lalive, ninth fastest on her first run of SL, struggled on the second and finished with an overall time of 2:46.70. "I'm a little disappointed, but I did my best," Mancuso said. "I think I could say I tried 100 percent and my outcome wasn't quite what I was hoping but that's all I can me to do, to perform my best... "I'm happy but I would've been happier if I were a little faster. I think I could've picked up a little (time) in both (DH/SL). My downhill run wasn't my best," she said. "It was faster than I'd been in training but I know I could've been a little better. I don't know where I lost it because I thought I skied it pretty good, but just wasn't successful today."

STIEGLER: "THREE-RUN BUSINESS ... KIND OF DIFFICULT" The snow conditions in the 15-degree weather, despite the steady sunshine, were "perfect. It really takes some good skiing," Mancuso said, "because it's so perfect and the light's so good, you really have to be on it to be fast. It's not breaking down at all. I ran 17th on the second run and there's wasn't even a groove." "It was pretty exciting," Stiegler said. "I just went out today and skied strong in all three runs - three-run business, it's kind of difficult, especially when it's at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, but I did well so I'm psyched." She conceded she didn't sleep much the night before her first race. "I didn't get pressured by the fact it's the World Championships. I don't really feel that affected me at all," she said, "but the fact I didn't complete eight straight slalom races - that was a concern."

Tuesday is an off day for all racers with the men's giant slalom Wednesday as Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) looks to make U.S. racing history, chasing his third medal of the championships. No other U.S. man has earned more than two medals at a single championships; Christin Cooper holds the U.S. mark with three, which she collected at the 1982 Worlds in Schladming, Austria.

St. Moritz, SUI - Feb. 10
Women's Combined (DH/SL)
1. Janica Kostelic, Croatia, 2:41.63
2. Nicole Hosp, Austria, 2:41.69
3. Marlies Oester, Switzerlandd, 2:43.83
4. Marlies Schild, Austria, 2:43.85
5. Maria Riesch, Germany, 2:44.60
7. Julia Mancuso, Olympic Valley, CA, 2:45.30
10. Resi Stiegler, Jackson Hole, WY, 2:45.65
13. Caroline Lalive, Steamboat Springs, CO, 2:46.70
Did not start: Jonna Mendes, Heavenly, CA