March 31, 2007
GIRDWOOD, ALASKA - (USST News Bureau Release) - Julia Mancuso (Olympic Valley, CA), who just completed the best U.S. women's World Cup overall season since 1984, earned the eighth national title of her career Saturday, winning the super G at the Nature Valley U.S. Alpine Championships as Californians swept the podium.
Versus will televise coverage from the U.S. championships Saturday, April 7 at 6 p.m. ET.
Mancuso was third in the World Cup overall standings with four wins, including one in SG for the best showing by a U.S. woman since Tamara McKinney was third 23 years earlier; Saturday, she was timed in 1:11.80 over the mile-long (1.6K) course.
The silver medal went to Olympian Stacey Cook (Mammoth Mountain, CA), the 2006 SG champion whose time was 1:12.03, while Katie Hitchcock (Sacramento, CA) finished third in 1:12.12.
Mancuso: "such a fun hill..."
"It's so beautiful here and it was a lot of fun," Mancuso said, "but it's got a big jump (the Waterfall jump) and you don't want younger kids crashing. But it's such a fun hill; the snow was cold and slow, and the hill was set a little differently than yesterday (for the downhill). In inspection it looked similar and we thought it would run similarly.
"But the jump projected you in the wrong direction," she said. She's been testing new equipment, which didn't run fast in the DH where she was sixth, but nearly three seconds behind Kaylin Richardson (Edina, MN), who won. "Today was much better and gives me good confidence that my equipment will be good again next season."
Mancuso, who has been on the podium in eight consecutive U.S. championships - and holds the U.S. record with 12 consecutive top-3s at nationals, enjoys the atmosphere at the U.S. championships because of the camaraderie in addition to the end-of-season environment. Her first championships were at Jackson Hole, WY, in 2000, two weeks after she turned 16, when she was silver medalist in both super G and combined.
"I love nationals. You come out see your friends, have some fun, encourage the young ones to pop in there. We never get a chance to be relaxed during the World Cup season, but this is such a different environment," she said. "Those first nationals were great because I was on the Development Team with my sister (April), and Lindsey (Kildow - Vail, CO; missing this week because of a knee injury) and I were kind of the new kids...and she was second in downhill and I was second in super G. It was so much fun...and still is."
Cook: Coaches responded immediately to crash
Cook, who won the non-title FIS downhill Thursday, but was just off the podium in fourth place Friday in the national title DH, was philosophical. "It was a wild day; the course wasn't set a whole lot different than yesterday (for the DH), but it definitely skied differently. Caitlin (Ciccone - Bethlehem, NH, the defending giant slalom gold medalist) started eighth and she crashed, and the coaches' radios immediately jumped. The coaches said we needed to slow down before the Waterfall so we could make it without a problem. Only a little more speed made a big difference in how far you flew off the jump.
"They said slow down going into it, and then make up the time afterwards. This course is a side hill and there's plenty of room to make up some time. There's five gates at the bottom with a nice rhythm, so it could be done. For me, it kind of sums up my season - some good results, then some not-so-good, then good again...a little inconsistent, which is frustrating," Cook said.
Kiley Staples (Park City, UT), the NorAm slalom champion who was second overall this season, had the top junior result. She was sixth overall and finished in 1:12.90.
The women's races continue Sunday with slalom and conclude Monday with giant slalom and the completion of combined calculation, which, at the U.S. championships, includes slalom, GS and DH.