March 12, 2007
LENZERHEIDE, Switzerland (USST Press Release)—Olympic champion Julia Mancuso (Olympic Valley, CA) remains in the hunt with three Austrians for the women's overall World Cup title this week at World Cup Finals and former world champion Bode Miller (Bretton Woods, NH) leads in his bid for a second World Cup super G title in three seasons.
Racing begins Wednesday with the men's and women's downhills. WCSN.com will broadcast same-day video streaming from Lenzerheide daily. The men's downhill will be broadcast at noon ET and the women's DH will be video streamed at 4 p.m. ET. Live interval timing will also be available at livetiming.usskiteam.com.
"Snow conditions are outstanding. It's a tough downhill; some sections are bumpy and there are some tough turns," U.S. Women's Head Coach Patrick Riml said Monday night after the first get-acquainted training run for the women.
Doubled-up daily racing schedule
"We'll push it a little bit more tomorrow and see what happens Wednesday," he said. The weather forecast is for good weather into the weekend; World Cup Finals limits participants to the top 25 skiers in each discipline plus Junior World Championships gold medalists.
After the DHs, racing is scheduled to continue Thursday with the super Gs. Friday, it's the nation's team event with four runs of downhill or super G and four of slalom for national teams of up to six athletes; the U.S. Ski Team finished second a year ago in the inaugural team competition during World Cup Finals in Are, Sweden.
The weekend brings tech races - men's giant slalom and women's SL Saturday, men's slalom and women's GS Sunday in the final World Cup races of the winter. "There's a lot of interest in Julia, of course, and particularly from the media," Riml said. "She's been doing a great job of dealing with the interest and keeping her focus on her racing. I'm very impressed with the way she's handling it.
"We can calculate the points Sunday afternoon and see who's on top. We want to keep things as simple as possible. We can't control a lot of the interest," he said, "but I have to say Jules - and the rest of our girls - will take it run by run, day by day." [pagebreak]Riml will have five women competing in Finals: Mancuso, Stacey Cook (Mammoth Mountain, CA), Kirsten Clark (Raymond, ME) - who won a World Cup downhill at Lenzerheide in 2001, Resi Stiegler (Jackson Hole, WY) and Kaylin Richardson (Edina, MN).
In addition, Lindsey Kildow (Vail, CO), who won three races this season and collected two silver medals at the 2007 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships last month, also qualified for World Cup Finals, but a knee injury forced her to end her season early so she could begin rehabbing to strengthen it for the '08 season. "We miss Lindsey, for sure, and she would be so competitive here," Riml said, "but she made the right decision so she can get healthy for next year."
Coach: Miller ready to win SG title
Four American men will be racing - Miller, Marco Sullivan (Squaw Valley, CA), Steven Nyman (Provo, UT) and Ted Ligety (Park City, UT). Men's Head Coach Phil McNichol - said the interest in the women's race plus the battle between defending overall champion Benjamin Raich of Austria and Norwegian challenger Aksel Lund Svindal is overshadowing Miller's run for a second SG title.
"There's talk about the girls and that situation, and there's the ongoing interest in Benni and Svindal," Head Coach Phil McNichol said. "And that's appropriate...but Bode's focused on skiing well and locking up that super G title again.
"Two years ago, we had a double 'win' with him and Daron (Rahlves, who retired last spring) tied in that last super G here, and there shouldn't be any doubt whether Bode wants to win this title. He wants it and I think it's going to take some amazing skiing to beat him," McNichol said.
The men get a training run Tuesday; speed racers arrived Wedneesday afternoon after the next-to-last downhill and super G in Kvitfjell, Norway, during the weekend. The women got their first training run Monday because the speed skiers were off over the weekend while the World Cup schedule called for GS and slalom in Zwiesel, Germany; World Cup DH champion Renate Goetschl of Austria led the training run with Mancuso in third place, Cook in ninth and Clark crashed in the safety netting, but was not injured, Riml said.