Street Leads Four into Top 20

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Lake Louise, ALB, Nov. 29, 2001-- Former two-time World Cup downhill champion Picabo Street (Park City, UT), whose first World Cup came at Lake Louise seven years ago, nailed the bottom Thursday and earned her best World Cup result since 1998, finishing sixth in the opening DH of the season. She led three other teammates into the top 20 while Isolde Kostner of Italy won her third race at the Canadian Rockies ski area.

Outdoor Life Network will broadcast coverage of the Winterstart World Cup downhill(s) Dec. 3 at 9 p.m. EST.

"Good day...good--not great--but a good, solid start by everybody," said downhill Head Coach (and birthday boy) Jim Tracy. "They gave me a nice present. I'm pleased with all of them -- a big step back for Peek and Jonna and Katie, really big steps, and good steps for Clarky and 'Liner' Lalive and the young ones, who're paying their dues. We've got things to clean up, but right now they're all moving forward."

"I made a few mistakes, definitely, but bottom line was I had a good time running that down hill," Street, who started eighth, beamed after finishing in 1:37.61. She credited "a quick, powerful report" from Caroline Lalive (Steamboat Springs, CO), who skied No. 1, for helping set the stage for her and Jonna Mendes (Heavenly, CA), who started right behind in No. 9.

Kostner, in collecting her third win -- and seventh top-3 -- at Lake Louise, finished with a time of 1:36.75. Overall, it's her 10th World Cup victory--all of which have come in downhill. She won here last season wearing bib No. 22, the same number she wore Thursday. Austrian Michaela Dorfmeister, the defending downhill world champion who won the season-opening giant slalom at Soelden, Austria, a month ago, was runnerup in 1:37.08 and Corinne Rey Bellet of Switzerland was third in 1:37.26.

Close behind Street were Kirsten Clark (Raymond, ME) in 11th, Mendes in 13th and Lalive in 19th. Mendes is rebounding for a broken bone in her right ankle while Katie Monahan (Aspen, CO) returned after two years on the sidelines with knee injuries. She ran just .05 out of the top 30 to finish 33rd.

Street gave Lalive a hug in the finish and thanked her for the course report. Street said that Lalive told her, "The light is great. You'll be able to see more but don't let that change your plan. The course is faster. It's going to come at you a little bit more, so be ready for that, and just grab your tuck whenever you can. It's race day, so let's race this thing." Street said the report "was nice, precise, to the point,and exactly what Jonna and I needed to hear. We both looked at each other afterwards and kind of gave each other a nod and a big high-five in the start?"

Street said, "It's been really fun having my team, and that's something I'm really relying on a lot right now, the support of the team, ?the camaraderie we have and the support we give one another. We genuinely hope everybody does well and I hope the coaches have a heckuva time trying to pick an Olympic Team in February."

Street told reporters in the finish that she had a couple of mistakes at the top: "I got off line a couple of times but pulled it back in and that's what downhill's all about. Thank God for the flat bottom because I can still glide...whhhewwwww..."

While describing her run, the 1998 Olympic super-G and 1996 World Dowhil Champion said, "I nailed the bottom and I knew I had to, so I really skied aggressive and assertive. I was a little bit angry when I got into the bottom. I have a sore spot on my elbow right now because I got real close to a couple of gates and hit 'em. Downhill's a minute and 40 seconds long, and I took advantage of the whole dang thing. I messed up the top and hit the bottom, and who knows? Maybe tomorrow I'll do the opposite."

Clark (who earned her first World Cup win a year ago in Lenzerheide) explained that she overcame two mistakes high on the course which had cost her speed as she headed into the flats at mid-race. So, she said she was "psyched" about her result.

"You've got to be able to ski those technical sections and especially me because I've got to be able to nail those sections to be able to carry my speed across the flats," Clark said. She also noted that the 11th in this downhill and her ninth in the giant slalom at the Chevy Truck Women's World Challenge in Copper Mountain, Colo., a week ago give her two solid results for the start of the season.

Mendes and her teammates were glad to finally have a race. She didn't get to spend much time on snow during the preseason but Lake Louise -- where she got her first World Cup points (en route to the 1998 Olympics), her first top-20 ('99) and her first top-10 (a year ago) provides a comfort factor as she eases back into racing.

"After you've been injured, there's a coming-back period that you just have to kind of see how it's going to go. I needed this first race to say, 'Okay, I can get a top-15, no problem. Now, here's what I'm going to do, this is what I'm capable of. I know it. I needed to get this race under my belt," she said, "and now that I've got it, I don't see whyI can't get a top-10 again this year."

Lalive said the good weather, which followed two training days in fog and overcast conditions, was fortunate, so she was able to attack as much as possible from the No. 1 start. "I'm happy. I made it down. I skied well and I'm happy," she said. "I made a little mistake on the top, which I wasn't too pleased with, but that's okay..."

It was a relieved Monahan -- a 1998 Olympian who injured her right knee in the first race of the '00 season -- in the finish, conceding she was glad to be racing and glad to finish. After two seasons out of action, she noted, "This is a good start and it's only going to get better," she said. "When I get nervous, I just think of how lucky I am to even be here and be doing it...and get things in perspective."

Women's Head Coach Marjan Cernigoj agreed with Tracy. "There were a lot of positives today. Peek, Jonna, Katie -- all really good...and they all know they can do better," he said. "we'll attack again Friday. There are such small margins and you have to pay attention all the way. This was good for the start of the season."

The women race downhill again Friday and super-G Saturday. They will stick around next week for Nor Am Cup races at Lake Louise. Two downhills and super Gs are scheduled before they head to Europe.

Winterstart World Cup
,b>Lake Louise, ALB - Nov. 29
Women's Downhill
1. Isolde Kostner, Italy, 1:36.75
2. Michaela Dorfmeister, Austria, 1:37.08
3. Corinne Rey Bellet, Switzerland, 1:37.26
4. Catherine Borghi, Switzerland, 1:37.48
5. Ingeborg Helen Marken, Norway, 1:37.48
6. Picabo Street, Park City, Utah, 1:37.61
11. Kirsten Clark, Raymond, Maine, 1:38.09
13. Jonna Mendes, Heavenly, Calif., 1:38.14
19. Caroline Lalive, Steamboat Springs, Colo., 1:38.29
33. Katie Monahan, Aspen, Colo., 1:39.18
44. Julia Mancuso, Squaw Valley, Calif., 1:39.95
45. Tatum Skoglund, Bellevue, Wash., 1:39.96
Did not finish: Lindsey C. Kildow, Vail, Colo.