Mancuso hopes for big weekend
TARVISIO, Italy – Julia Mancuso’s bid to become the first American woman to win the World Cup overall title in 24 years will depend a lot on how she skis this weekend on a course where she already has tasted success.Mancuso is the only one of the four skiers seriously in the running for the title who excels in each of the weekend’s disciplines – super-combi on Friday, downhill on Saturday and super-G on Sunday.”I just have to not think of that and have good races,” Mancuso said. “I have to take it one race at a time.”Mancuso is attempting to become the first American woman to win the overall title since Tamara McKinney in 1983.The World Cup circuit is racing in Tarvisio for the first time, but Mancuso has been here before. She won the downhill title on this course at the 2002 junior world championships.”I wouldn’t say it suits me, but I guess so,” Mancuso said Thursday after posting the second-fastest time in downhill training. “It’s just really flat. But there’s good turns, so it’s fun. It’s kind of narrow.”Mancuso is in a race with three Austrians for the overall title.Marlies Schild leads the overall standings with 1,052 points, Renate Goetschl is second with 1,019, Nicole Hosp is next with 989 and Mancuso is fourth with 959.Schild and Hosp are technical specialists, while Goetschl excels in the speed events. Goetschl hurt both knees slightly in a training crash Thursday, but still planned to compete in the weekend’s three races.Goetschl, who already has clinched the super-giant slalom crown, also has a chance to clinch the season’s downhill title Saturday. She has a 134-point lead over Mancuso with only one more downhill remaining after this weekend.Schild clinched the slalom title in Sierra Nevada, Spain, last weekend and leads the super-combi standings.Tarvisio is located in the northeastern corner of Italy, nestled between the Austrian and Slovenian borders. Men’s races this weekend in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, are only a 20-minute drive away.The start of the Prampero course is located below the Lussari sanctuary, a site that has attracted religious pilgrims for centuries.The course’s narrowest point is only 38 yards wide. But at 1.9 miles, it’s one of the longest courses on the women’s circuit.Anja Paerson, a Swede who won three world titles last month on her home turf in Are, will be competing this weekend in the same three disciplines she swept at the world championships. She’s out of the running for the overall title, but clearly has favorites for the weekend.”I really hope Goetschl wins. She deserves it. She’s been trying so hard and she’s at the end of her career,” Paerson said, adding that she is rooting against Schild because “I don’t want to see a girl who wins (only) slaloms win the overall.”Mancuso, an all-around skier, is Paerson’s second choice. Mancuso’s three victories this season have come in three different disciplines – downhill, super-combi and super-G. At last year’s Turin Olympics, Mancuso won the giant slalom.