Mancuso sets record with five medals |

Mancuso sets record with five medals

Daily Staff Writer
Libby Ludlow negotiates a gate as she skis to her first-place finish in the women's giant slalom during the U.S. Alpine Championships at Mount Alyeska in Girdwood, Alaska Tuesday, March 23, 2004. (AP Photo/Al Grillo)

GIRDWOOD, Alaska – Libby Ludlow (Bellevue, WA), who collected her first World Cup points in giant slalom this winter, took the first-run lead in giant slalom Tuesday and held on for her first U.S. title while Julia Mancuso (Olympic Valley, CA) finished second and earned her USA-record fifth medal at the Chevrolet U.S. Alpine Championships.

In the final event of the championships, Ludlow finished with an unofficial time of two minutes, 22.09 seconds at Alyeska Resort. Mancuso took the silver medal in 2:22.53 and the bronze medal went to Jessica Kelley (Starksboro, VT) with a time of 2:22.77 in the 30-degree sunshine. Ludlow’s win was the third for a Dartmouth skier at Alyeska; Bryon Friedman (Park City, UT) won the men’s downhill and combined.

“I knew this year I was gonna get a title, but I thought it would be in super-G.” Ludlow said. “But, I’m almost happier with this because GS is so tough.

“Super-G is kind of my specialty, so I had a lot of motivation to get that title I came here for. This is a good hill for me because it’s technical. There’s a lot to it at the top. But, I knew if I laid one down, I’d be in there.”

The bronze medalist in downhill last Friday, Ludlow slammed into a panel in super-G on Saturday and the panel whipped around, cutting her chin and one of her legs and leaving an unsightly contusion. It cost her time precious time as well, as she settled for the bronze.

On Tuesday, she was nearly flawless.

“I had a really good first run. I had good rhythm all the way to the bottom,” Ludlow said. “You had to stay with in – make your skis go in the fall line. I just trusted my balance and stuck it.”

On the 47-gate second run, Ludlow said that she was a little ‘off’ at the bottom.

“It was pretty good on the top where it’s technical,” Ludlow said. “I got a little behind with my line on the bottom, and I think that’s where I lost a little time.”

Ludlow said she plans to spend a few days at home, and do a day of physical testing in Park City this week before next Monday when she’s supposed be back in class at Dartmouth College.

She was due for her first World Cup start in the GS that opened the season last October in Soelden, Austria, but she injured an ankle. That injury kept her sidelined for the first part of the season.

Winning Tuesday’s GS after that frustrating start to the season made the win a little more satisfying, she said.

Another record performance for Mancuso

Mancuso, who set a U.S. record at midseason when she won her seventh and eighth medals at the World Junior Championships, took silver in all four individual events; being second in both downhill and slalom translated into being gold medalist in combined. A year ago, at sun-bathed Whiteface Mountain outside Lake Placid, N.Y., she won three gold medals – downhill, super-G and GS.

Her performance this year broke the women’s mark set in 1991 at Crested Butte, when Wendy Fisher won four medals (gold in combined, silver in super-G, GS and slalom) and tied in 1993 at Winter Park by Julie Parisien (gold in combined, silver in super-G and GS, bronze in slalom).

Two men have collected four medals at a U.S. championships – Casey Puckett earned four at the 2001 U.S. championships at Big Mountain, Mont., and the 2000 championships at Jackson Hole, Wyo., and Bode Miller at the 2003 Chevy championships at Whiteface.

“I almost fell a couple of times (on her first run), so I knew I needed to put one down. I just needed to get a better first run,” Mancuso said. “I just didn’t make the mistakes (on the final run) I did the first time. I had some problems with the light and not getting on (over) my skis, so I had to let it go on the second run.”

The championships helped Mancuso end a frustrating season on an up note.

“It was a hard season,” Mancuso said. “It was hard to give up speed for most of the year. I only raced a couple of downhills, but I did well in super-Gs. I learned a lot, though, and I know what I have to do to make a big jump. I’m excited to have all this knowledge help me move on and get better. I’ll be more competitive next year.”

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