Mendes 12th In St. Moritz Downhill


St. MORITZ, Switzerland, Dec. 17--Lake Tahoe teenager Jonna Mendes was the first one on-course Friday and hung-up the best result of her young World Cup career, finishing 12th in a downhill at St. Moritz. Italy's Isolde Kostner won her third race of the season.

With World Cup leader Janica Kostelic sidelined for the season with torn knee ligaments suffered in a training crash Thursday, Kostnerwon in an unofficial 1:37.81. German Regina Haeusl was second with a time of 1:37.89 and Slovenian Spela Bracun took third in 1:38.03.

Mendes - who was 19th in a DH at Lake Louise over Thanksgiving weekend for her first top-20 - was timed in 1:38.79 for her firsttop-15. Kirsten Clark (Raymond, ME), the only other American in the St. Moritz race, was DNF.

Mendes (Heavenly, CA) made her time at the bottom of the course, according to U.S. Coach Marjan Cernigoj.

"She skied exceptionally well, really skied top to bottom. She was good at the top but she was fifth-fastest on the bottom and this is a very difficult course. It has all the elements of a great downhill: flat at the top, a big jump - that's where Clarky crashed and where Kostelic went down Thursday - and some high-speed turns, technical section, a lot of rolls...Jonna was awesome. She really committed to the course."

He said the course was cold at the start and later racers got a break from the weather as it turned completely sunny and the coursespeeded-up. "The later girls got six- and seven-tenths of a second jump on Jonna at the top - that's in 30 seconds - so she really nailedthe bottom."

The women race another downhill Saturday with the possibility of a moderate snowstorm moving in before the race, and complete thevisit to St. Moritz with a super G Sunday.

Victory Bound!