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GIRDWOOD, Alaska March 24, 2004 (AP by Doug Alden) – Julia Mancuso became the first skier to win five medals in the five events of the U.S. Alpine Championships, and was still a little disappointed.
Mancuso won four silvers and a gold, but the second-place finishes were in all four individual events – the downhill, super giant slalom, slalom and Tuesday’s giant slalom. Her only victory was in the combined, an event that isn’t an actual race but a combination of the downhill and slalom.
“It’s exciting, but I just wish I got a real gold,” Mancuso said. “It’s good. It’s a little different though. It’s always nice to win an event. I was on my way a couple of times, but I just had too many mistakes here.”
Four other skiers had won four U.S. medals in past competitions, but nobody had completed a medal sweep.
Mancuso, the defending national champion in the downhill super G and GS, was in good position to win Tuesday by tying the fastest time late in the afternoon run at 1 minute, 13.31 seconds.
But four skiers later, first-run leader Libby Ludlow zipped down the mountain quick enough to knock Mancuso back to another silver with a combined time of 2:22.09, .44 ahead when the scoreboard flashed “New Leader” for the final time. “I was just happy to see that,” said Ludlow, who placed third in the downhill and super G. “I kind of thought I lost it because I was kind of fighting and my line wasn’t great down here. I got a little low, but tried to stay with it.”
Ludlow had a wide grin after the race, probably in relief as much as celebration after taking a physical beating this week. Already battling a cold, Ludlow hit a gate that scraped her chin and whipped around and smacked her thigh, causing a bad bruise and drawing blood.
The collision, which she said she doesn’t remember much, slowed her way down and she ended up third in the event she thought she had the best chance at winning.
“I was shooting for the national title in super G and after I didn’t get it, I was like, ‘I have to do it in GS,”’ Ludlow said. “I came into this nationals without any podiums, so I was ready to do it for sure.”
Jessica Kelley, whose cousin, Jimmy Cochran, won the men’s slalom and GS, was third Tuesday (2:22.77). Super G and slalom winner Lindsey Kildow’s run for a third gold ended with a sixth-place finish (2:23.49) on Tuesday.
“I’m happy with it, either way,” said Kildow, who suffered a slight concussion in a fall in the downhill Friday, then won the next two races. “Today was definitely not my best day, but it’s fine with me.
“GS is my worst event out of all four. I was kind of hoping to dig deep and finish it off with a win. I just ran out of gas.”
Bode Miller, this year’s World Cup GS champion and No. 4 in the overall standings, was the last skier to win four medals in these championships, doing it last year in Lake Placid, N.Y. He didn’t come close to repeating at Alyeska, where his best finish was 10th in the downhill.
Miller missed gates in his first run of both the slalom and giant slalom, and had to climb up the hill to finish both races. He also missed his start time in the GS, but was allowed to race anyway.
Copyright © 2000 The Associated Press