Park City, Utah Jan. 26, 2002 (AP by Rob Gloster)--Even though Picabo Street said her 33rd-place finish in a World Cup race last Friday was ``my last super-G,'' a slim chance remained that she would be able to defend her Olympic gold medal in that event.
Street, the only American to win an Alpine skiing medal at the 1998 Nagano Olympics, was to officially find out Monday whether she'll be on the U.S. super-G team for the Feb. 8-24 Salt Lake City Games.
Street has had such poor super-G results during the World Cup season that she failed to clinch an automatic berth on the U.S. team in that event. The Olympic rosters for the U.S. men's and women's Alpine teams were to be announced Monday.
Street already was assured of a spot on the U.S. squad for the Olympic downhill, her best race and the event in which she won a silver medal in the 1994 Games.
There remained a remote possibility she would leapfrog a pair of U.S. skiers with better super-G results and be selected to that squad.
Kirsten Clark, Caroline Lalive and Jonna Mendes all clinched spots on the U.S. team for the super-G by finishing in the top 10 of a World Cup race this season.
Based on U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association guidelines, the top contenders for the fourth U.S. spot in super-G were Katie Monahan, who has two top-20 finishes this season, and Julia Mancuso, whose 22nd-place finish Friday is better than anything Street has managed.
But USSA rules state that three skiers will be picked for each event based on objective criteria such as competition results, and that ``coaches' discretion must be limited to no more than 25 percent of total named team.''
That means the fourth spot could be based on more subjective criteria, such as Street's position as defending champion and the obvious interest fans _ not to mention broadcaster NBC _ would have in her skiing in two events in Salt Lake City.
Street, who has struggled on the slopes since ripping up her right knee and shattering her left thigh in a World Cup race in 1998, said Friday that downhill ``is more natural for me.''
``There are certain risks that you have to take in super-G that I'm just not ready to take,'' she said.
But U.S. team selectors also know that Street cannot be counted out of any race. She won her super-G gold medal in 1998 just 14 months after tearing ligaments in her left knee, and only a couple of weeks after suffering a concussion in another skiing accident.
Already assured of a spot in the Olympics was Kristina Koznick, a Minnesotan who trains independently of the U.S. team. She will be the top medal contender for the U.S. women's skiing squad.
Koznick has a win and a pair of second-place finishes in World Cup slaloms this season, and stands a good chance at a medal in that event. Her victory _ actually a tie for first place _ came eight days ago in Germany.
``I think after what happened to us on Sept. 11, every American will be cheering for me,'' she said. ``I'm trying to plan it so I can peak for the Olympics going home in February. I think I'm right on track.''
Bode Miller has been the top technical skier in the world this season, and his selection to lead the U.S. men into the Olympics will come as no surprise.
Miller has three slalom wins and a giant slalom victory on the World Cup circuit, and is the only legitimate Olympic medal contender for the U.S. men in Alpine skiing.
``It's always special with the Olympics,'' said Miller, who will try to become the first American man to win a slalom medal in 18 years. ``It's the biggest event we have in skiing, and to have it in the U.S. ... it's going to be a monumental event in my life.''
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