Super-G a tough day for the Americans | VailDaily.com

Super-G a tough day for the Americans

Melanie Wong
mwong@vaildaily.com

BEAVER CREEK — Some would call it a rough weekend. Others might call it a learning experience.

That pretty much summed up the weekend's results so far for the U.S. Women's Ski Team, and Saturday's super-G race was its toughest day yet at Beaver Creek's Raptor Women's World Cup. It was a disappointing day for the American squad as a few of their top contenders, including Julia Mancuso and Stacey Cook, posted mediocre runs littered with mistakes that cost them precious seconds.

Disappointing finishes

Smith had the best run of the day for the Americans, placing 23rd with a time of 1 minute, 21.14 seconds. She started with a couple mistakes on the first few turns, but recovered admirably to refocus and carve beautifully on the bottom half.

Stacey Cook was the next finisher in 28th place with a time of 1:21.36, followed by Julia Mancuso in 29th with a time of 1:21.43. Results were rounded out by Laurenne Ross in 31st (1:22.00), Julia Ford in 34th (1:22.22) and Megan McJames in 43rd (1:23.55).

Mancuso had hoped to improve over Friday's results in the downhill, but lost control early on in the course. She avoided catastrophe, but swerved wildly between gates for the rest of the run, making for a particularly disappointing run in what is one of her strongest disciplines.

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Laurenne Ross went early in the order, but was knocked off her line on what is becoming known as "Liberty Left," a swooping turn on one of the toughest parts of the course. Cook skied a much cleaner run than she did on the downhill, but barely enough to crack the top 30.

Young skiers wipe out

Some younger skiers fared worse, succumbing to the technical and steep nature of the course. Newcomer Jacqueline Wiles was competing in her second World Cup and crashed on the upper part of the course. She crossed her ski tips on the Voodoo portion of the course and slid down the next portion of the run on her hip. She skied away without injury.

Anna Marno had her first ever World Cup start on Saturday, but it was short-lived. The Kestrel section of the course that gave skiers so much trouble in the downhill, got its claws into Marno when it threw her into the backseat, spun her around and sent her sliding down the hill. She also left the course without injury.

Ford finishes strong

Ford went immediately after Marno and Wiles, without knowing her teammates had crashed ahead of her. She had a few bobbles but pulled out a smooth run with a powerful finish.

"I was pretty jazzed. I'm happy with my run," she said. "It was a little ragged. I was all over the place, and I definitely can be faster. But it's awesome to have this race at home. I have both friends and family watching today."

Refocusing for next week

Now the speed portion of the team looks to next week's race at Lake Louise, Alberta, where they hope to look more like the speed team that was the "fastest in the world" last season.

Cook said it's a matter of clearing their heads and refocusing for next week. She added that the team has much more talent and speed than was apparent at Beaver Creek that fans are sure to see later in the season.

"It's early in the year and this is a really demanding race with the pressure of the home crowd, and we'll learn from it. We want to peak in February (for the Olympics)," said Cook. "I want to come out strong, of course. That's how you get in the Olympics. But I have goals at the Olympics as well. As a group I think we are better than this."

Smith said a bad weekend, as some would call it, is just that — a weekend.

"Now it's just moving on. Last year I had a bad weekend and then was on the podium at Val d'Isere the next week. It shows you how up and down this sport can be," said Smith. "Some might say this is a bad weekend. I call it a learning experience. You can't kick ass every weekend, right?"

Mikaela Shiffrin and the American technical team takes center stage with today's giant slalom.

Assistant Mananging Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 or at mwong@vaildaily.com.