Mancuso loses ground, Miller ousted in chase for overall World Cup titles |

Mancuso loses ground, Miller ousted in chase for overall World Cup titles

Julia Mancuso, of the United States, competes, during an Alpine Ski Women's Downhill, at the World Cup finals in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, Wednesday, March 14, 2007. (AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati)

LENZERHEIDE, Switzerland Julia Mancuso lost her nerve Wednesday, and with it valuable ground in her bid to become the first U.S. woman to win the overall World Cup title in almost a quarter century.Bode Miller lost any hope of regaining the large crystal globe he won on this mountain two years ago.”We got a little spoiled with all our great results this season,” U.S. women’s head coach Patrick Riml told The Associated Press. “But we can’t expect top-three results every time.”Mancuso finished fifth, failing to reach the podium for only the second time in the last seven downhill races. The result dropped her further behind Marlies Schild in the race for the overall crown. She also trails two other Austrians, Renate Goetschl and Nicole Hosp.”I got a little nervous today, which I normally don’t do,” Mancuso said in a U.S. ski team statement. “The course was a lot easier than I expected and I definitely could have pushed it a little more.”Mancuso spoke to British television following the race but, like Miller, refused to speak with American journalists.

“Maybe she had too much respect,” Riml said. “But fifth place is not a bad position, 45 points is 45 points. And there are still three races left.”Though Mancuso won the GS gold at the Turin Olympics, she finished last year eighth overall and entered this season still winless on the World Cup. That’s changed with four victories and 10 podium results this season.Goetschl, who had already locked up the downhill and super-G titles, kept alive a slim chance of adding the large crystal globe by winning in 1 minute, 22.73 seconds.Schild, who has won seven of eight slaloms this year, finished second for her best downhill result. France’s Marie Marchand-Arvier was third.Mancuso – seeking to join Tamara McKinney as the only U.S. woman to win the overall – was 1.05 off the winning pace, with Hosp behind her in sixth.Schild leads the overall with 1,382 points, 55 more than Hosp. Goetschl overtook Mancuso and is third with 1,300 points. Mancuso is another four points back.Goetschl and Mancuso will need to outscore Schild in Thursday’s super-G to have any realistic chance at the title going into the weekend’s slalom and giant-slalom, where Schild and Hosp can expect a big points haul.

On the men’s side, Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal overcame a half-hour interruption before his run to win in 1:18.97.Olympic combined champion Ted Ligety, who had never before posted a top-30 finish in the downhill, finished a surprising fourth behind runner-up Daniel Albrecht of Switzerland and Christoph Gruber of Austria in the race marred by two accidents.”I’m super-psyched with my progression in the downhill,” the American said.The gates on the downhill course were set tight and narrow, favoring technical specialists at the expense of pure speedsters who prefer longer gliding sections.”It was like skiing GS turns at 80 mph,” Ligety said.Like Ligety, defending overall champion Benjamin Raich of Austria benefited from an early start number and the course’s technical set.

He finished 13th to retain his place at the top of the overall standings with 1,075 points. Svindal now has 1,052 points, while Didier Cuche of Switzerland is third with 1,008.Miller, who finished ninth, was knocked out of the chase for the overall title, which he clinched on this course two years ago ahead of Raich to become the first U.S. World Cup overall champion in 22 years.Miller is now 303 points off the lead, with only 300 points still up for grabs.”He was bummed,” U.S. men’s coach John McBride said. “But I don’t think he was disappointed because of the overall. He just wanted to feel good about a good race.”But he skied pretty well considering the conditions changed after the hold, making it harder for the guys who started later.”The race was interrupted for almost 30 minutes after 1997 downhill world champion Bruno Kernen of Switzerland crashed coming off a jump and was airlifted from the course. France’s Pierre-Emmanuel Dalcin also had a high-speed tumble, causing another delay.

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