Mancuso 9 points off overall lead |

Mancuso 9 points off overall lead

Julia Mancuso, of the United States, face to camera, celebrates with British skier Chemmy Alcott after winning an Alpine Ski World Cup Women's Downhill, in Tarvisio, Italy, Saturday, March 3, 2007. (AP Photo/Marco Trovati)

TARVISIO, Italy – Californian Julia Mancuso seems to do her best skiing in the Italian Alps.The resident of Squaw Valley, Calif., won a downhill here Saturday for her fourth victory this season and moved within nine points of Austrian Marlies Schild atop the World Cup overall standings.An American woman hasn’t won the overall title since another Squaw Valley resident – Tamara McKinney – won it in 1983.”I’m psyched. I just started winning races this year, so it’s awesome,” Mancuso said. “I always have good races in Italy.”

Mancuso won the giant slalom at last year’s Torino Olympics, and won a super-giant slalom race in January in Cortina. She was second in a super-combi Friday in Tarvisio. And her Italian success also includes a win in the downhill at the 2002 junior world championships in Tarvisio.Mancuso can move ahead of Schild in Sunday’s super-G. After that, there are two more World Cup stops this season – in Zwiesel, Germany, next weekend and at the finals in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, the following week.Mancuso skied the 1.9-mile Prampero course – one of the longest and most narrow on the women’s circuit – in 1 minute, 52.67 seconds. Renate Goetschl of Austria was second, 0.17 behind, and clinched the season downhill title. Emily Brydon of Canada was third, 0.21 back.Another American, Kirsten Clark, finished eighth for her best result this season.Goetschl clinched the season’s downhill title with one race to spare. She has 605 points, while Mancuso is second with 491. Wins are worth 100 points each, so Goetschl has an insurmountable lead.

It’s the fifth downhill title of Goetschl’s career, matching fellow Austrian Franz Klammer for the record.”Franz Klammer is a legend and I also know him,” Goetschl said. “Whenever you hear the name Franz Klammer, you think ‘downhill,’ and I’ve always thought downhill, also.”Goetschl, who skied in pain Saturday after injuring both knees in a training fall this week, added that she will extend her career at least one more season to try to break the record she now shares with Klammer.”She felt pain, but she knew she needed a result right behind Mancuso to win the cup,” said Austrian Alpine director Hans Pum. “You could see it in her eyes how focused she was.

“She’s the speed queen,” Pum said. “I think she’s the greatest now.”Schild finished seventh and barely retained her overall lead with 1,148 points, while Mancuso moved up to second with 1,139. Nicole Hosp dropped to third with 1,103 after finishing 17th, Goetschl is fourth with 1,099.In Austria, skiing is the national sport, and winning the overall title is “bigger than the Super Bowl,” said U.S. speed coach Alex Hoedlmoser, who is Austrian.”In the U.S., everyone just looks at the Olympics. But at the Olympics sometimes you just have luck with conditions or whatever. It’s just that day. To be consistent over the whole season means a lot more in the skiing world,” Hoedlmoser said.”It’s not just winning one game. Everyone can win just one game, but to win the whole season, that’s different.”

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