December 19, 2006
VAL D'ISERE, FRANCE - (USST News Bureau Release) - Olympic giant slalom champion Julia Mancuso (Olympic Valley, CA), healthy after a weekend stomach illness, earned her first World Cup victory Tuesday, winning a downhill with teammate Lindsey Kildow (Vail, CO) in third place.
Racing in sunny, 15-degree weather, Mancuso tore down the 2.5K Oreiller Killy track to finish in 1:38.93 with Renate Goetchl of Austria in second place at 1:39.36. Kildow, who won here a year ago with Caroline Lalive (Steamboat Springs, CO) in second place, completed the podium in 1:39.47 for the 51st running of Val d'Isere's Criterium of the First Snow.
"I thought I had a pretty sweet run but you never really know. In ski racing you never really know," Mancuso said. As she waited in the race-leader box at the finish, she said, "I kept telling myself, 'Get it over with'...Renate and Lindsey had leading splits up top, but then they had a bobble or something toward the bottom, so that made this pretty sweet..."
Mancuso: "I'm finally 'there'..."
"For me, it's kind of like I'm finally 'there.' It was tough in the beginning of the season. I was having a hard time racing, and even if I didn't win, if I had a full run and felt super confident, that would have been good. But I nailed the top and I felt strong," she said.
Said DH Head Coach Alex Hoedlmoser, "Jules was on a mission today. It was like she had the devil on her back...and now Lindsey's going to be on a mission tomorrow" in the second downhill on the speed run named for two French Olympic gold medalists.
WCSN.com will broadcast streaming video from the race, the first of three days of women's makeup events in Val d'Isere, Wednesday at 11 a.m. ET.
Mancuso, rebounding this season after hip surgery in the summer to repair chronic problems, led from the first timing split (0.28 seconds ahead) at about 20 seconds into the race, added a half-second by the second split (0.79), more than a second (1.23) at the third split, dipped a bit (1.14) at the fourth split, added nearly three-tenths - racing at 75 miles an hour (120.4kph) as she stormed toward the finish. She was 1.52 seconds ahead of then-leader (and Val d'Isere native) Ingrid Jacquemod when she crossed the line.
"It's a pretty dynamic course," Mancuso explained. "There are tons of rolls and it's pretty fast in certain sections, so I was going for it. It's very technical and you need to be clean and smooth...
"(Monday) in the training run, I didn't ski great in the second half but on top I was pretty good. There's one turn going into the Meadows (midrace) that you had to nail, and I guess I nailed it and carried my speed down through. I was up over my skis, like I couldn't feel the snow..."
Nyman's advice was spot-on
"I felt pretty good the whole way down, but there are definitely places where I could have been more dynamic. My skis felt smooth and I can't think of any particular mistake."
She thanked Steve Nyman (Provo, UT), who won a downhill Saturday in Val Gardena, Italy. She called to congratulate him "and he inspired me. He gave me some good tips and told me that my skiing was awesome, so I had to do it! Thanks, Steve," she laughed.
The win comes as an early Christmas present, Mancuso said. "My victory happened just on time, before Christmas, which is good so my family will come over and celebrate this with me."
Kildow and Mancuso were both sick with stomach flu over the weekend in Reiteralm, Austria. Kildow missed Friday's super combined and skied out in a super G Saturday while Mancuso, noting she probably shouldn't have raced because of the stomach bug, held it together and she tied for 18th in the SG. They traveled Sunday, trained Monday - Kildow didn't finish her run - and raced Tuesday.
"I slept from four in the afternoon (Friday) until seven o'clock - oh, like, 15 hours...and I felt better Saturday, just dehydrated. I didn't eat dinner the night before and didn't have much energy. I was there (racing) in my head but I'm not so sure my body was there. It was a 24-hour thing. I think I picked it up from Lindsey in between runs of the super G and slalom" in the super combined Friday in Reiteralm.
Comparing it to her gold medal in GS at the Olympics in Torino last February, she said, "Today's victory on the World Cup is a little different than the one at the Olympics last (season), but just because the Games are so huge. Emotionally, last year was difficult, but today I knew hat I had another chance tomorrow in case today didn't work the way I wanted. It was so exciting to go out there and test my skills.
Teammate on podium adds to the joy
"I'm happy to be on the podium with Lindsey Kildow. You know, a couple of my podiums were with her. She's an awesome skier. It's great to share this victory."
Kildow echoed her two-time Olympic teammate: "I'm really happy with it, a podium is always good and it's nice Julia and I were on the podium together. That was pretty neat."
The course, she added, "is quite a bit faster than it's been in the past. They straightened out a couple of gates...and I gave a little late on a couple of turns on the bottom, which cost me. But it's still a podium and that's good.
"They cleaned things out from the training run and the snow was good, the conditions were excellent."
"Just a normal day for us in Val d'Isere," Hoedlmoser shrugged before bursting into laughter. "Jules did a great job. She was absolutely fantastic and she nailed every section, no mistakes. Lindsey had a great run, too, but it would have taken a perfect run to beat Jules. She was good on the top, too, but two or three small mistakes and it kept her away from the win. Still, she was wicked fast and she'll be gunning it tomorrow.
"For them to come back like this, though, after both of them being sick in Reiteralm was incredible. Jules was not as bad as Lindsey, but she felt weak and must've slept for a day and a half and got better on Sunday. Now, obviously, they're both over it but it still takes quite a bit of energy out of you."
The women run another downhill Wednesday, this one a makeup from St. Moritz, Switzerland, because of poor snow. Thursday, they head into the holidays break with a slalom.
For complete results: http://www.fis-ski.com/uk/604/1228.html?cal_suchsector=AL&event_id=21590.