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Vonn just misses podium

Ian CroppVail CO, Colorado
U.S. ski racer Lindsey Vonn, of Vail, Colo., skis to a fourth place finish in the World Cup Downhill ski race on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2007 in Aspen, Colo. (AP Photo/Nathan Bilow)
AP | AP

ASPEN – After winning both downhill training runs on a clean piste, American Lindsey Vonn had to deal with a different course Saturday. Vonn, the former Ski & Snowboard Club Vail racer, had a solid run on a snowy Aspen Mountain at the Aspen Winternational race to lead the Americans in fourth place, just 0.05 seconds out of third. Julia Mancuso was 16th. “I was really bummed out,” Vonn said. “I’m skiing so well, and I feel really badly. I wanted to show my stuff to the home crowd, but unfortunately, I’m just not good in powder.”On a course that had seen almost 3 feet of snow fall in the past few days, the Americans had four racers in the top 25, with Julia Mancuso in 16th, Stacey Cook 20th and Resi Stiegler in 24th. Because the race was called due to fog, both Leanne Smith and Libby Ludlow did not get to start, while Kaylin Richardson skied off course earlier. Vonn thought about not starting, as Austrian Alexandra Meissnitzer, who went four spots ahead of Vonn, crashed, and Austrian Nicole Hosp, running after Meissnitzer, decided not to start.”There was a big commotion at the start, and it definitely crossed my mind – ‘Is this worth it?'” Vonn said. “And it’s tough. It’s a tough decision to make, but I’m happy I made it to the finish. I’m happy with the fourth, as hard as it is for me to say, because I’m still healthy.” Mancuso had a good split at the first interval but lost some time in the middle of the course and wasn’t able to recover.”I guess I’ve been having some trouble on the bottom part all week, so I wasn’t able to charge it,” Mancuso said. “I think you just have to stay in the track. There’s a lot of soft snow if you aren’t in the track. That will get you.” Running one spot after Vonn, Mancuso didn’t get a course report. Cook, starting 24th, did, although it didn’t help her as much as she would have liked.”I got a report from our coaches and another from Lindsey before I went. They said it was in good shape for the conditions we were given. You are totally capable of jumping in there,” Cook said. “I thought I was skiing well and letting my skis run, but something wasn’t there today. I’m not really sure what.” Smith, who had picked up her first World Cup points last weekend in a downhill at Lake Louise, Alberta, and also scored in a super-G the next day, was looking to keep her momentum going Saturday.”I’m bummed,” Smith said. “Visibility in the top half was pretty sketchy, but the bottom was fine. It’s a bummer, but life goes on.”

After flying down the Birds of Prey while forerunning a super-G last week, Stiegler didn’t quite find the speed she was looking for Saturday and hit a few ruts on the way down.”I was skiing like a 2-year-old halfway down the course, but that’s how I knew I was going to get down fine and just stay on two feet,” Stiegler said. “Both hills are awesome hills and can be to their max potential when it’s not dumping snow out.” Richardson took a different approach with her run and missed a gate about midway through.”In these kinds of conditions, you just have to get that much more aggressive because your first instinct is to try and get into the backseat, so you just have to be conscious of getting in the front of the boot,” she said. “When I went out, it was a tactical error. It was a little bumpy, and I got confused.” With snow still falling on the course, some American racers were thinking about the 2 feet that fell Friday.”I went powder skiing,” Cook said. “I have a good memory from here at least.”Vonn, however, took Friday off. “Maybe I should have skied powder because it was kind of similar to the course conditions,” she said.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at icropp@vaildaily.com or 748-2935.


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