Vail’s Vonn miffed about Mancuso’s "negative" comments
The Denver Post
WHISTLER – Lindsey Vonn didn’t intentionally sabotage Julia Mancuso’s bid to defend her Olympic giant slalom title by crashing Wednesday, but that may be the effect of her misfortune.
And it heated up a long simmering rivalry between the 25-year-olds.
In an improbable sequence of events, Vonn crashed on her first run near the bottom of the course while Mancuso was on the course above her.
It was random luck of the draw that Vonn started 17th and Mancuso 18th. But when Vonn crashed, Mancuso was “flagged” as a safety precaution, meaning she had to stop and return to the start for a re-run.
“That was probably the worst possible thing that could happen in the Olympics – to get flagged, defending your gold medal,” Mancuso said. “It’s probably the most unexpected thing ever.”
Mancuso ran 31st with tired legs on a course that was deteriorating rapidly, and she finished 18th – 1.3 seconds behind pace-setter Elisabeth Goergl of Austria. That’s a lot of time to make up on the second run. At least Mancuso got extra time to rest. The second run scheduled Wednesday afternoon was postponed until this morning because of fog.
“It just doesn’t seem right,” Mancuso said of her re-run.
Vonn, who broke a bone in the pinkie finger of her right hand in the crash, was apologetic.
“I feel terrible for Julia,” Vonn said. “I wanted to finish, I wanted to have a good run, and by no means did I want that to happen to Julia. With the course conditions deteriorating the way they were, it was really difficult for her to come down with a fast time. I really hope she can ski the way she’s been skiing and have a good second run.”
There was more to the story than Mancuso’s anger over her bad luck, however. Vonn and Mancuso have been rivals since they were promising young juniors, and Mancuso has been expressing resentment over the attention Vonn has received.
“If you’re not paying attention to me, you’re just missing out,” Mancuso said three days before the Olympics began. And in an interview with Sports Illustrated over the weekend, she objected to the “popularity contest” she apparently thought she was losing to Vonn. She added: “People are having a hard time reaching their potential because it’s such a struggle for attention. You come to meetings after races, and it’s like it’s a bad day if Lindsey didn’t do well.”
Mancuso wouldn’t elaborate Wednesday afternoon, saying: “I’m just interested in answering questions about the GS right now.”
But Vonn let it be known she didn’t appreciate what Mancuso said.
“I try to support Julia as much as I support all the other teammates,” Vonn said when asked about Mancuso’s remarks. “I’ve been racing with Julia since I was a little kid. Yes, we’re competitors, but I always support her. It definitely has hurt me that she has said some negative things about me.”
Since winning the giant slalom at the Turin Games, Mancuso has struggled while Vonn has dominated. Vonn won two World Cup overall titles (and leads in the standings again this season), four World Cup discipline titles and two world championship gold medals. Mancuso has never finished higher than third on the World Cup, and has never won a discipline title or a world title.
“Lindsey doesn’t decide if Lindsey gets the attention,” said Vonn’s husband, Thomas. “It’s not like Lindsey slipped everybody $100 to write a story about her. She skied well coming in. When you ski well coming into an Olympics, you’re going to get more attention.”
Both racers have claimed two medals here: Vonn gold and bronze, Mancuso two silver. Thomas Vonn said his wife was “definitely” upset by Mancuso’s comments.
“She’s always cheered for Julia and been happy for her when she’s done well,” Thomas Vonn said. “She’s wondering where it’s coming from.”
John Meyer: 303-954-1616 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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