Kildow can’t let loose; Lalive crashes | AspenTimes.com

Kildow can’t let loose; Lalive crashes

Nate Peterson

Nadia Styger of Switzerland, back row center, took the top spot on the podium in Friday's super G on Aspen Mountain. U.S. racers Kristin Clark (second from right on bottom) and Lindsey Kildow (second from left on bottom) finished fifth and seventh, respectively. (Mark Fox/The Aspen Times)

Too tentative. Too risky.

In Friday’s super G on Aspen Mountain, the difference between a podium spot and a slot back in the pack was pretty minimal, U.S. women’s team head coach Patrick Riml said.

In the case of Lindsey Kildow, Riml said the dynamic 21-year-old racer from Vail skied too conservatively on the bottom half of the course. Julia Mancuso of Northern California, Kildow’s 21-year-old teammate, was to aggressive, Riml said.

Kildow and Mancuso weren’t arguing with their coaches’ critiques.

“I know I can do a lot better,” said Kildow, who finished seventh in 1 minute, 14.55 seconds. “I feel like there’s a hump I need to break. I’m still not totally aggressive on 100 percent of the course and I think that’s something I need to work on. I just don’t feel as confident as I maybe did last year in super G.”

“It was just little mistakes everywhere,” added Mancuso, whose time of 1:15.76 kept her from scoring any FIS points in 31st. “I guess I was just taking too many risks and they didn’t pay off today. I was just going a little straighter. I didn’t set up for anything. I ended up low and in the soft snow a couple times.”

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Veteran Kirsten Clark of Raymond, Maine, was the one American skier who found the right balance of speed and agility Friday, Riml said.

Clark finished fifth in 1:14.38 ” the highest showing for an American.

Aside from Kildow and Clark, the only other American to break into the top 20 was Libby Ludlow (20th, 1:15.11) of Bellevue, Wash., who was the second racer on course. Ludlow was 10th in the first super G of the season Sunday in Lake Louise, Alberta.

Caroline Lalive of Steamboat Springs injured her left knee in a crash near the top of the course after running into a gate and catching an edge. Lalive skied to the bottom after the fall, before leaving to be examined by a doctor.

“I tried to cut the line too much and literally put my body inside the gate,” Lalive said.

As for the knee, nothing popped, but Lalive said, “I can’t quite figure out how it feels.”

Kristina Koznick of Eagan, Minn., was 34th (1:15.91) after U.S. Ski Team officials offered her a spot in Friday’s race. Koznick, known as a technical specialist, said she decided to race because she felt good running super G last week in Lake Louise.

After Friday’s result, Koznick, who plans to retire at the end of this World Cup season, was looking forward to today’s giant slalom.

“I just kind of wimped out,” she said. “I tried to go for it, but when I can’t see what’s on the other side of a knoll, I don’t have enough speed experience, so I kind of feather and feathering all the way makes it slow.”

Friday’s race was still fun, Koznick said.

“If I could be top 30, I would be so happy,” she said. “For the most part, it’s just to experience something new. If I can find something that makes me smile this much at 30, then I think that’s a good thing.”

In a USA Today story that appeared Thursday, Mancuso and Kildow ” the two young stars of the women’s team ” were portrayed as fierce rivals.

On Friday, Kildow said the story was inaccurate, noting she and Mancuso have a “healthy relationship.”

“That was totally blown out of proportion,” she said. “We’re on the same team, and obviously we compete against each other, but she’s no more of a rival than anything else. If anything, she’s my biggest asset because she pushes me to be better. When we’re training, you have to have someone who is skiing fast to gauge yourself and push you harder. I love that she’s skiing the way she is and I definitely don’t think it’s a rivalry.

Mancuso said Wednesday that the only rivalry between the two concerns clothes, not skiing.

American skiing greats Picabo Street and Hilary Lindh were bitter rivals when the two were competing on the U.S. Ski Team. Some members of the media want to create the same kind of tension, but it’s not likely to happen, Kildow said.

“Jules and I, we’re not the best of friends,” Kildow said. “I’m not going to go on a vacation with her or anything. But we get along no problem. I just talked to my boyfriend about it. They want to make something about it. That’s fine, whatever.”

Kildow said she likes to bump Jay-Z and 50 Cent while she warms up on a stationary bike in the morning before a race …

Clark, who has skied in two Winter Olympics, said the hype surrounding Kildow and Mancuso as the world prepares for Turin in February is merited. “They deserve everything that they’ve gotten. They’re great people and they work hard. It’s having girls that are skiing fast … There are people on our team who are the best in the world and that definitely helps when you’re coming back from an injury. You’re able to gauge where you are with your own teammates and know where you stand.” ….

Koznick had the biggest cheering section Friday. A crew of about 20 friends wore “Team Koz” hats and shirts. “I thought I’d be really nervous,” Koznick said. “This may sound really cheesy, but they’re all my friends and they’ve never seen me ski, so, to them, they don’t care. I love it. It made me so relaxed.”

Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is npeterson@aspentimes.com