Olympics: Riesch gets combined gold as Vonn hooks gate, Mancuso big silver again
WHISTLER, B.C. - Lindsey Vonn suffered a tough break Thursday when, on her way to winning another medal, she hooked a gate and lost her right ski in the slalom portion of the Olympic super-combined race.
It was world slalom champion Maria Riesch who took the gold and Julia Mancuso, who you'd never recognize as someone who hasn't finished a slalom race all season and who jumped up and down then fell onto her back kicking up her legs when she landed in the finish area in the lead, who ended up with the silver. Her last decent slalom race was third in U.S. Championships last season but at these Olympics her dormant talent is clearing surfacing. With Wednesday's silver in downhill and the giant slalom gold in 2006, she becomes the only American woman to win Olympic medals in three disciplines and ties Bode Miller for most Olympic medals won in alpine skiing by an American.
"So ... I found my slalom," she said, laughing after the race. "It's been hiding. I was nervous in the start. I was also really excited. I knew it was all or nothing, so I went out there and gave it my all."
Mancuso also had a big bobble in the middle of her slalom run but recovered and kept charging.
"I crossed the finish line after having a mistake. It was really just joy and amazement," she said. "When I realized I got another medal it was ... just crazy. It's that moment you wait for as an athlete. It's the moment you realize you've been working so hard and to realize anything's possible. I didn't expect that for myself. I just believed and went for it."
Riesch won in a combined time of 2 minutes, 9.14 seconds, more than a second ahead of everyone besides Mancuso, who was 0.94 back. The victory was especially precious for the World Cup slalom leader since she had to skip the last Games with a torn ACL and also after Wednesday's disappointing downhill race, when nerves took hold after watching the two racers before her (Anja Paerson and Marion Rolland) crash and she ended up eighth.
"Before the downhill [Thursday] I felt much more cool and calm than yesterday," said the German, who, after the downhill portion of her run in which she was just 0.33 seconds behind then-leader Vonn, said she was "relieved. "My position just three tenths out was good. I knew I could ski fast in the slalom and I did it. I couldn't race in the 2006 Olympic but now I'm back here in Whistler and winning a gold medal. I really can't believe that I did it."
Like Mancuso, it was a day of small miracles for Anja Paerson, who, after a horrific crash at the end of what would have been a medal-winning run in Wednesday's downhill, came back for the bronze in super-combined, 1.05 seconds back. With six Olympic medals, she ties Janica Kostelic for the all-time women's record for alpine skiers.
The Swede won slalom gold in the 2006 Games and bronze in combined and downhill, took silver in GS in 2002 and bronze in slalom. She said she woke up in pain with bruises all over her body - internal bleeding in her left calf which pained her greatly in her ski boots - and bruises all over her body. Her decision to race at all Thursday was made at the last minute.
"Today was just about me making it to the start gate," she said. "For me it would have been hard to cope if I hadn't done that jump today. When you fall down you have to get up again. At the start, I said, 'I'm going to run it. I have to do it.' And I did it."
Vonn said she was feeling good and charging. Knowing that Riesch would lay the hammer down in slalom, she wasn't simply racing for a medal. She wanted another gold.
"It's not like the World Cup where I'm fighting for the overall title, where I just want to finish to get points," she said. "I won gold yesterday so I didn't want to shoot for something lower than that. I put it all out there. It didn't work out for me. I was fighting hard and I caught a tip. It happens all the time in slalom."
Vonn leads the World Cup super-combined standings, but there have only been two races. She won the race in Val d'Isere in December and took third in the last super-combined, which was the last World Cup stop before the Games in St. Moritz. Still, she has spent virtually no time on a slalom course since injuring her shin on Feb. 2. Riesch leads the slalom standings and besides two DNFs, has finished fourth or better in every World Cup combined race since December 2007. Mancuso was 14th in the St. Moritz super-combined after finishing third in the super G portion of the race and DNFed in Val d'Isere. She has struggled in slalom for the last couple of seasons ... though is apparently turning a new leaf.
U.S. racer Kaylin Richardson skied to 17th Thursday for her best elite super-combined result since March 2007. Leanne Smith, who has had very little slalom training and who crashed while training between runs, skied to 21st.
Olympic alpine racing continues Friday with men's super G and women's super G Saturday.
Photos by GEPA
By Hank McKee
Women's Olympic Combined, Whistler, BC, Canada, Feb. 18, 2010
1 Riesch, Head/Lange/Head
2 Mancuso, Rossignol/Lange/Rossignol
3 Paerson, Head/Head/Head
4 Zettel, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
5 Maze, Stoeckli/Lange/Atomic
6 Suter, Stoeckli/Lange/Atomic
7 Zahrobska, Head/Head/Head
8 Schnarf, Volkl/Tecnica/Marker
9 Kirchgasser, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
10 Marchand-Arvier, Rossignol/Lange/Rossignol
Women's super combined, XXI Winter Olympics, Whistler, BC, Canada, Feb. 18, 2010. … It is the 17th Olympic combined held, the ninth for women.
It is the first Olympic medal for Maria Riesch. … It is the 15th German gold medal in alpine ski racing. … the fourth in combined. … It is the third German women's gold medal in combined, the last coming from Katja Seizinger at Nagano Feb. 17, 1998. … It is the first German alpine medal since Martina Ertl won bronze at Snowbasin in 2002. … It is the third win of the season for Riesch after a slalom win at Levi and a DH win at St Moritz.
In is the third straight Olympic medal race for Julia Mancuso, going back to her gold medal effort in the 2006 GS. … She joins Bode Miller as the only American racers to win three Olympic medals. … She, Miller and Penny Pitou are the only American alpine racers with two silver medals. … It is the 34th Olympic alpine medal for the U.S. and the fourth of these Games. … The U.S. record for a single Olympics is five at Sarajevo in 1984. … She had skied to a top three result on the World Cup in the last two seasons.
It is the sixth Olympic medal for Anja Paerson, tying Janica Kostelic for the all-time alpine record. …It is the 15th Swedish alpine medal but she is only the sixth Swedish athlete to score one. … It is her seventh top three finish this season and she won the last World Cup combined before arriving at Whistler.
Shona Rubens scores her career best Olympic result, eclipsing a 21st in the downhill set yesterday. … It is the best result of the Games for Emily Brydon, the third best of her Olympic career. … Kaylin Richardson matches her career best Olympic result, also in combined, from the 2006 Olympics. … Leanne Smith gets her first Olympic finish and it is the best of any of the four Smiths who have scored in previous Games. … Anna Berecz collects the best alpine result of any Hungarian in Olympic competition.
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||FIS Points|
|25||5||435210||GASIENICA DANIEL Agnieszka||1987||POL||1:30.28||45.96||2:16.24||68.17|
|26||34||35089||SIMARI BIRKNER Macarena||1984||ARG||1:29.56||46.81||2:16.37||69.42|
|Did not start 1st run|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|31||35079||SIMARI BIRKNER Maria Belen||1982||ARG|
|Did not finish 1st run|