Mancuso: ‘I’ll take a top 10 any day’
Her surgically-repaired right hip still isn’t 100 percent. She said she needs more time on snow.Considering all that, Julia Mancuso predictably was excited to finish seventh in Saturday’s giant slalom down the face of Aspen Mountain. Hers was the best finish by a U.S. Skier on a day when only three Americans out of nine qualified for a second run.”I’m psyched,” said Mancuso, whose two-run time of 2 minutes, 19.22 seconds was more than three seconds off the pace of winner Kathrin Zettel. “I definitely didn’t ski that great. Especially with my few days of training I’ve had, I’ll take a top 10 any day.”Mancuso, who hails from Olympic Valley, Calif., won the Olympic giant slalom in February and finished eighth in the final World Cup standings last season, following three podium finishes. She had offseason surgery on her right hip to repair a torn labrum and to grind down a bone spur, which has put her behind schedule heading into this season.
Her hip feels fine in the morning, but gets sore easily, she said. The pain has made her curtail the amount of time she spends training, she said. Saturday’s race was her first of the season after she skipped the season-opening slalom in Levi, Finland.”I definitely could use some more miles on skis,” she said. “I feel like I know how to make a good turn, it’s just a matter of putting it all together.”Mancuso might have been joined in the top 10 by teammate Jessica Kelley, had Kelley not made one crucial mistake coming over the knoll midway down the mountain when Summer Road dips into Strawpile. Kelley finished the first run in 15th, and her top split on her second run had her nearly a full second ahead of the current leader before the error. Luckily, she didn’t ski off course and was able to salvage her run, finishing 22nd in 2:21.18.”I knew it was pretty straight over and I didn’t want to give it too much direction and I didn’t give it enough,” said Kelley of the transition. “When I made the gate, I was like, well, at least I’m still on the course. I definitely am a little bummed with myself because I’m usually pretty good tactically… At least I earn some World Cup points.”
While Kelley fell in the standings, Resi Stiegler (Jackson, Wyo.) went in the opposite direction after earning the last starting bib for the second run.Stiegler skied from the unenviable 62nd position in the morning to slide into 30th position, which gave her the first crack at the freshly-groomed course on the second run. She used that to her advantage and finished in 20th with a combined time of 2:20.99.The result comes on the heels of a 10th-place showing at the opening slalom.Of the remaining six U.S. Skiers who got bibs, four finished their first run, but were out of the top 30, while Lindsey Kildow (Vail) and Libby Lublow (Bellevue, Wash.) skied off course.
Kildow, whose weakest discipline is GS, said she was pleased with how she was skiing before she missed a gate.”I had a good split time, so that’s positive,” she said. “It’s a difficult hill, so stuff can happen like that. I’m just going to hope for the future and hopefully tomorrow will be better.”When asked to further explain her struggles with GS, Kildow was at a loss. The discipline is considered the basis for all the other alpine events, but for some reason she’s better at downhill, super G and slalom.”I don’t know why it’s not a good event for me,” she said. “I didn’t grow up doing it. I don’t really know. It should be the base for everything, but for some reason I can do everything but GS. It’s still something I have to work on.”The Aspen Times, Aspen, Colo.
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Had Hailey Swirbul decided against going to Europe, she would not have finished with a career-best result in Friday’s World Cup opener. Yes, there was a time, and not long ago, when the U.S. ski team member and Roaring Fork Valley native questioned her desire to put on a race bib.