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Mancuso 7th in Season's First GS

November 25, 2006

ASPEN, CO - (USST News Bureau Release) - Julia Mancuso (Olympic Valley, CA) finished seventh Saturday in the season's first World Cup giant slalom, leading three Americans into the top 25. Resi Stiegler (Jackson Hole, WY) started 62nd and was 20th while Jessica Kelley (Starksboro, VT) survived a mistake on the final run to still finish 22nd.

Austrian Kathrin Zettel won the first World Cup of her career in 2:16.10 with first-run leader Tanja Poutiainen of Finland second in 2:16.38.

Mancuso, the Olympic GS champion who is returning from hip surgery in the spring, finished in 2:19.22 while Stiegler, given a second run after she came down 32nd but two skiers were disqualified in the first run, had the seventh-fastest second run to post a total time of 2:21.04. Kelley, 15th in the first run, held on to finish in 2:21.18; it was the best GS result of both Stiegler's and Kelley's career.

"I was psyched. I definitely didn't ski that great, especially compared to my few days of training and in the past," Mancuso said. "I was a little bit nervous, but I'll take a top 10 any day that's not a bad day for me.

Mancuso: Some First-race, First-run Nerves
"I was more nervous first run than second run, but I went back to just trying to be natural...It turned out to be a good race," she said. "The second run was more like a GS course" after a first run, which was "really tight."

"They did an awesome job preparing" the second run, Mancuso said, despite the unseasonally warm temperatures in the last week or so. Temperatures were in the mid-30s (low 40s at the finish), but athletes and coaches saluted the Aspen organizers for their tireless course prep.

"I definitely could use some more miles on skis. I feel like I know how to make a good run; it's just a matter of putting it all together," she said, responding to a question about her reduced preseason training because of surgery on her right hip last summer to correct chronic pain. "It's a little bit more rhythm, getting up to race pace and skiing more runs...

"Since I've been injured I've been skiing a lot of my own courses and just taking a few runs so I'm never out there long enough for the courses to get rutted, so that (skiing 23rd in the second run, under the flip-30 format) was a first for me (this season) and that hurts a little on my hip. I'm just looking forward to getting through the season healthy and, yeah, I'm looking for a win but I'm definitely not 100 percent in my hip."

Kelley Focuses on Positive

Kelley, starting 39th, was 15th in the first run but in the second run, she nearly missed a gate while leading by about a second as she went over a brief breakover, recovered and easily topped her previous best, 27th in a GS nearly three years ago. "I'm skiing well but that second run was not very smart tactically," she said. "I knew it was pretty straight over and I didn't want to give it too much direction,> and I didn't give it enough and I almost missed my next gate, but fortunately I pulled it off and I still get some World Cup points...yeah, some good World Cup points." (Twenty-second is worth nine points.)

"When I made the gate, I thought, 'Well, at least I'm still in the course,'" she giggled. "I was definitely a little bummed with myself...I tried to do the same thing as first run and hoping I'd come down in the lead, but...at least I'm still skiing well."

Veterans Lindsey Kildow (Vail, CO) and Libby Ludlow (Bellevue, WA) failed to finish their first run - Ludlow hooking her right hand, which is in a pink cast after breaking her thumb in a training crash a week earlier, on a gate. Katie Hitchcock (Sacramento, CA) and Stacey Cook (Mammoth Mountain, CA) failed to qualify for the second run while Caitlin Ciccone (Bethlehem, NH) and NorAm GS champion Megan McJames (Park City, UT) - making their World Cup debuts - also failed to qualify.

NBC and Versus, formerly OLN, willl televise coverage of the Aspen races. Versus will have same-day slalom coverage Sunday at 5 p.m. ET with GS coverage Dec. 3 at 5 p.m. ET. NBC will broadcast giant slalom coverage Dec. 3 at 1 p.m. ET. WCSN.com will begin streaming video coverage Dec. 3 at 5 p.m. ET. Live timing of the Aspen slalom is available via livetiming.usskiteam.com Sunday, starting at noon ET.

WOMEN'S ALPINE WORLD CUP
Sirius Satellite Radio Aspen Winternational
Aspen, CO - Nov. 25, 2006
Women's Giant Slalom
> 1. Kathrin Zettel, Austria, 2:16.10
> 2. Tanja Poutiainen, Finland, 2:16.38
> 3. Michaela Kirchgasser, Austria, 2:16.68
> 4. Nicole Hosp, Austria, 2:16.88
> 5. Maria Pietilae-Holmner, Sweden, 2:18.15
> -
> 7. Julia Mancuso, Olympic Valley, CA, 2:19.22
> 20. Resi Stiegler, Jackson Hole, WY, 2:21.04
> 22. Jessica Kelley, Starksboro, VT, 2:21.18

Did not qualify for 2nd run:
Katie Hitchcock, Sacramento, CA; Caitlin Ciccone, Bethlehem, NH; Stacey Cook, Mammoth Mountain, CA; Megan McJames, Park City, UT

DNF-1:
> Lindsey Kildow, Vail, CO; Libby Ludlow, Bellevue, WA

For complete results:
http://www.fis-ski.com/uk/604/1228.html?cal_suchsector=AL&event_id=21338

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