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ST. MORITZ, Switzerland (Feb. 9) — Canadian Melanie Turgeon didn’t have the fastest split anywhere on the hill Sunday, but she was top-3 in just about each interval, tearing-up tore-up the bottom half of the course to win the women’s downhill at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. Jonna Mendes (Heavenly, CA) was sixth to lead the four U.S. women.
NBC will televise coverage today 1-3 p.m. EST.
In collecting Canada’s first World Championships gold medal since Kate Pace’s stirring victory in 1993 in Japan, Turgeon’s winning time was 1:34.30 as she withstood a challenge from Alexandra Meissnitzer of Austria. But Meissnitzer, who was .19 ahead at the final split, inexplicably lost .3 in the final few hundred meters, including two jumps, and wound up tied for the silver medal with Swiss Corinne Rey Bellet in 1:34.41.
The victory meant North Americans have won four of the last six women’s world DH titles: 1993 — Pace; 1996 — Picabo Street; 1997 — Hilary Lindh…and ’03 — Turgeon, who set a record that can only be tied as she won a medal in all five events at the 1994 World Junior Championships at Whiteface Mountain outside Lake Placid, NY.
Mendes, the super G bronze medalist, raced No. 14 and finished in 1:34.82. Kirsten Clark (Raymond, ME) was 19th with Libby Ludlow (Bellevue, WA) 23rd and Caroline Lalive Steamboat Springs, CO) 30th as a crowd announced as 17,000 enjoyed the race in bright sunshine on Corviglia peak.
“I gave it everything I had and more, so that’s all I can ask myself,” said Mendes. “There were a few places where I improved (from training) and a few places I didn’t…
“I can’t be disappointed with myself when I gave it 100 percent — and I really did. I wasn’t nervous, I felt good about myself, I feel like I stepped up, and I took risks, and that’s what you have to do when you’re trying to win gold . Sometimes it works — for Mel (Turgeon, gold medalist from Canada), it worked today, and for me, it didn’t get me the gold but it got me sixth…
“Sixth place is nothing to be disappointed about,” Mendes said.
Clark, silver medalist in super G, was disappointed in her result but pleased for Turgeon’s championship. “I think it’s awesome. She’s worked so hard and she’s been on the World Cup for a long time and she’s standing up there,” she said. “It’s cool — North America’s still standing up there, so it’s awesome.”
Ludlow, in her first full season as a World Cup racer, was top American in two of the three training runs, but got off her line, skiing into soft snow along the track at a critical midsection spot she had nailed in training. “I didn’t pull it off today. I’d skied well there and I just couldn’t do it today. I was pushing a little too hard and got pushed too wide,” she said.
“It’s been a good experience, though. I’m disappointed I didn’t ski as well as I know I can but it’s been a good week,” Ludlow added. “The number (result) doesn’t bother me as much as not doing as well as I know I can.”
The women, who hadn’t raced since last Monday’s super G, face their second race in two days Monday in combined. U.S. starters will be Mendes, Lalive, Julia Mancuso (Olympic Valley, CA), and Resi Stiegler (Jackson Hole, WY).
2003 FIS ALPINE WORLD SKI CHAMPIONSHIPS
St. Moritz, SUI — Feb. 8
1. Melanie Turgeon, Canada, 1:34.30
2. (tie) Alexandra Meissnitzer, Ausdtria, and Corinne Rey Bellet, Switzerland, 1:34.41
4. Brigitte Obermoser, Austria, 1:34.57
5. Renate Goetschl, Austria, 1:34.65
6. Jonna Mendes, Heavenly, CA, 1:34.82
19. Kirsten Clark, Raymond, ME, 1:35.44
23. Libby Ludlow, Bellevue, WA, 1:35.81
30. Caroline Lalive, Steamboat Springs, CO, 1:36.43