Mancuso takes silver in women’s combined
ARE, Sweden ” Julia Mancuso added a silver medal to her growing collection and made U.S. skiing history. Anja Paerson was golden again on her homeland’s slopes.
Mancuso became the first American skier to medal at major competitions in three straight seasons, capturing second place behind Paerson in the women’s combined race Friday at the world championships.
Mancuso collected two bronze medals at the last world championships in Bormio, Italy, two years ago and gold in the giant slalom at last year’s Turin Olympics. She tied Christin Cooper and Tamara McKinney with four medals, and moved one behind Picabo Street’s record five among U.S. women.
“I just have a nice little box at home where I collect them,” Mancuso said. “It’s definitely interesting and fun to learn the history of past American racers and join in.”
Mancuso’s haul is nothing compared to that of Paerson, a Swede who has won both events so far at these world championships. Paerson, who also won the super-giant slalom on Tuesday, had struggled this season to regain her form after knee surgery.
“Everybody knows how my season has been, so coming in and skiing so well in the speed events, it’s unbelievable,” Paerson said. “I’m so ahead of myself when I ski at the moment. I’m maybe one or two gates ahead already and just playing with the terrain and having fun out there.”
Paerson’s victory was her sixth world title, and it gave her a total of 13 major championship medals ” five at the Olympics and eight at the worlds. That’s even more than Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark, who shares the Arctic hometown of Tarnaby with Paerson.
Paerson now has world championship titles in four of the five disciplines, and is only missing a downhill gold to complete the set. She’ll be among the favorites in Sunday’s downhill.
Paerson had the fastest downhill leg Friday and then easily maintained her lead in the one slalom leg for a combined time of 1 minute, 57.69 seconds.
Mancuso moved up from third after the downhill leg and finished 0.81 seconds behind. Marlies Schild of Austria took the bronze medal, climbing from 10th after the downhill with the fastest slalom leg. She finished 0.85 back.
Mancuso has now won medals in three different events.
“I think the combined, compared to every other event, is a little bit more about perseverance,” Mancuso said. “For me, making it down in slalom, skiing consistent and coming across the finish line first, to me, that’s what the combined is ” just fighting all day.”
Mancuso had hip surgery after last season and has struggled in slalom lately because of lingering pain. She also has a shin problem.
Mancuso was nearly a second behind Paerson after the downhill. Teammate Lindsey Kildow was second fastest in the downhill leg, but was disqualified after a wild slalom run.
Kildow took the silver in Tuesday’s super-G.
“I was pretty motivated for her to be on the podium today. That was a bummer,” Mancuso said. “It’s cool when your teammates do well and you can join in.”
Kildow had gained almost half a second on Mancuso midway through the slalom and was on pace to grab the silver medal herself until she made a mistake and lost her rhythm.
“I just had to go for it,” Kildow said. “In slalom, things can go wrong so quickly. I’m just really disappointed because I know that I had it if I would have just finished.”
Another American medal contender, Resi Stiegler, was also having a fast slalom run when she skied off course. Stiegler lost her bib after the downhill leg and was unsure whether she would be allowed to continue the race. Race director Atle Skaardal gave her the OK while riding the chairlift up for the slalom.
“I just wasn’t focused,” Stiegler said. “I was kind of wondering if I was going to be disqualified.”
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