ALTENMARKT, Austria Dec. 11, 2004 (USSA) - Caroline Lalive (Steamboat Springs, CO) was knocked off her first World Cup podium in three years Saturday when Slovenian Tina Maze tore out of the No. 64 start and bumped her to fourth place in a super G, finishing third behind Austrian Alexandra Meissnitzer. Lalive led four U.S. women into the top 15.
Meissnitzer won her 13th World Cup race in 1:13.04 while Lalive finished in 1:13.64 with Julia Mancuso (Olympic Valley, CA) fifth, Lindsey Kildow (Vail, CO) tied for 13th and Libby Ludlow (Bellevue, WA) 15th.
In addition, Bryna McCarty (Concord, VT) was 17th, Kirsten Clark (Raymond, ME) was 23rd and Jonna Mendes (Heavenly, CA), starting 57th, almost cracked the points, too, before finishing 35th. Overall, 10 of the top 30 came from outside the first 30 starters on the Zauchensee course above Altenmarkt.
Women's speed Head Coach Alex Hoedlmoser said conditions were tough because of the flat light as the course is largely in the shade. "We want more, of course - Caroline almost on the podium, bumped off at the end, and Julia skiing so well, and, really, all the girls pushing it in difficult conditions; good for them," he said.
Vet's relaxation tip
"Zauchensee is tricky that way," Lalive said. "It's 12 o'clock and you think the sun is high, but the way the hill is facing, more northern, so 75 percent of the course is in the shade...and I mean the shade-shade. The light's really flat. But the hill is so great, such a challenging hill. I like it a lot because it keeps coming at you all the way down. On the women's circuit, we don't have that many hills that are this demanding, so it's fun."
Lalive's experience - this is her ninth season on the U.S. Ski Team - helped lay the groundwork for her best result of the young season.
"If someone had told me I'd be fourth today, I'd say, 'That's great.' But to come so close...and to hang around the finish until the end and just get bumped, oh man...so close. But I'm definitely excited. It was a good run and it's been a good start for the season...
"It was a really nice day. We had so much time between course inspection and the race, so I went down into the hotel, got back into bed, wrote some Christmas cards, watched the men's race on TV - it was perfect. Then I went back up," the two-time Olympian said. "It seems I often do better when I'm relaxed, which is not always the situation where you can go back to the hotel.
"I told Lindsey, who's my roommate, and she couldn't believe it," Lalive laughed. "She was 'Oh, gosh...um...'" But Lalive couldn't have done it, either, when she was 20, like Kildow. "No, I probably couldn't," she said.
Her switch to Head Skis and her return to Lange boots have been a large part of her early up-start, which included back-to-back ninths in the two downhills at Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies, she said. "It's been, from the start, an awesome relationship. I'm very pleased. Salomon was great, too, but this was a terrific opportunity for me and it's worked so well. I'm pleased with Head's effort and enthusiasm; it really builds an athlete's confidence to see your company working like that for you," Lalive added.
4-5 and five top-20s
Seeing Lalive get "pipped," as the Europeans say, was disappointing, Hoedlmoser said. "We got fourth and fifth, the girls did so well, but to see Caroline ski so well and then get bumped out of the top three so close to the end has everybody disappointed.
"It was a super-fast set, very difficult - especially in the shade and flat light...and nobody came down without mistakes. Some were big, some were small," he said. "Lindsey was third at the last split but made a mistake, and Kirsten was faster on the last split than Liner (Lalive) and Julia but she didn't have the commitment she needed on one big turn at the bottom so she dropped back. She's super bummed, but 'Clarky' sees she's definitely going in the right direction in thhis comeback from torn knee ligaments and a broken wrist, and she's making major progress."
The women run slalom Sunday, then move on to Val d'Isere, France where they will face two downhills Dec. 18-19. After seven races, Finn Tanja Poutiainen is the women's World Cup leader while Kildow is the top U.S. skier, in seventh place.
WOMEN'S ALPINE WORLD CUP
Altenmarket, AUT - Dec. 11, 2004
Women's Super G
1. Alexandra Meissnitzer, Austria, 1:13.04
2. Lucia Recchia, Italy, 1;13.32
3. Tina Maze, Slovenia, 1:13.56
4. Caroline Lalive, Steamboat Springs, Colo., 1:13.64
5. Julia Mancuso, Olympic Valley, Calif., 1:13.69
13T. Lindsey Kildow, Vail, Colo., 1:14.43
15. Libby Ludlow, Bellevue, Wash., 1:14.53
17. Bryna McCarty, Concord, Vt., 1:14.73
23. Kirsten Clark, Raymond, Maine, 1:14.94
35. Jonna Mendes, Heavenly, Calif., 1:15.96
51. Kaylin Richardson, Edina, Minn., 1:18.75
For complete results: