Mendes finishes fifth in St. Moritz downhill | VailDaily.com

Mendes finishes fifth in St. Moritz downhill

Daily Staff Report

Jonna Mendes of USA speeds down the track on her way to place 5th in the women's downhill Ski World Cup race in St. Moritz, Switzerland, Saturday, Dec. 20, 2003. (AP Photo/ Marco Trovati)

Jonna Mendes (Heavenly, CA), who was bronze medalist in super-G at the 2003 World Championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland, returned Saturday and grabbed the second top-5 of her career, finishing fifth in a World Cup downhill won by Austrian Renate Goetschl. Kirsten Clark (Raymond, ME) was 16th.

In collecting the 29th win of her career, Goetschl finished in 1:39.78 with German Hilde Greg second in 1:39.95. Mendes, who collected her first World Cup top-5 in a downhill in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, last season, was timed in 1:40.24. Clark’s time was 1:40.85 in the race taken from Laax, Switzerland, because of poor snow conditions.

“This was not the same hill as World Champs,” U.S. Coach Alex Hoedelmoser said. “We were over on the men’s course, but Jonna – and Clarky, too – skied really well. Jonna skied so well through the tough turns, too.”

Mendes, running second in the field of 56, said the flats led into some turns that were pretty technical.

“There were a lot of big crankers right in the middle of the course. Definitely, two big turns were crucial and I was able to keep my speed through both of them.

“I knew I’d been fast on top, so I knew my skis were running and I pretty much kept the speed I gained up there. I kept telling myself “You’re really fast. You’re really fast.’ I already believe in my ability,” said Mendes, “And I know my skiing is really good. I’ve already proved that, but a lot of times my biggest obstacle is my head. Today, I was ready for it.”

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Mendes drew a comparison between St. Moritz and her amazing successes (first top-30, top-20, top-10) at Canada’s Lake Louise, noting, “There are certain hills we race on every year that I seem to enjoy – and this is one of them. We were partly on the men’s course, but St. Moritz does such a good job. They get so many volunteers and course workers, and conditions were terrific. The hill’s in great shape.”

The women run a super-G Sunday before taking the normal Christmas break. Hoedelmoser said the weather forecast called for strong winds, clouds and fog.

“They sit it will be rolling in by late morning, so maybe we will advance the start time. We certainly want to get the race in for everyone.”