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Skiing - 13. February 2011.

Mancuso Breaks Super Combined Top 10

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany  Ski Racing Magazine News Service) - The Alpine World Championships turned into a battle between Austrians today (Feb.11) in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany as Anna Fenninger cruised down the slalom course to take the win from Austrian teammate and first run (downhill) leader Elizabeth Goergl.

Fenninger, a three-time World Juniors gold medalist, was in fourth, 0.40 seconds behind Goergl after the morning downhill run then put down the fourth-fastest slalom run to secure a winning time of two minutes, 43.23 seconds to claim her first top-level victory. Fenninger, 21, has three World Cup podiums (all in the last two years) in speed events but no previous elite victories.

Slovenia’s Tina Maze was only nine hundredths of a second behind to grab the silver medal with the second-fastest slalom time (52.94) after standing tenth in the downhill (1.11 seconds back). Sweden’s Anja Paerson stayed consistent, earning the bronze medal after standing third in the downhill.

Goergl, who won the super G gold medal three days ago, landed fourth after losing the majority of her lead on the bottom of the Gudiberg slalom course.

The win comes at a great time for Fenninger, who, after a disappointing 2010 season was pondering calling it a career. 

“Last season was  hugely difficult for me I have to admit, I actually wanted to quit training, then I stepped back, thought things through and started training for combined... new season, new start, I always knew I know how to ski,” said Fenninger. “Today I just wanted to stay focused and concentrated, not to push things, but to make the best of it.”

Paerson collected her 17th big event medal (11 Wolds, six Olympic) including the 2007 super combined title. “I’m very happy to be here,” she said in the medal winners’ press conference.”Things were out of harmony for me at the beginning of the season but after the new year I got it together and now I feel good, up to the challenge of the World Championships.”

Maze also bounced back from a disappointing 11th-place finish in the super G and rough patch following a mid-season serviceman change.

“It is disappointing when you lose by such a small amount,” said Maze, who has been nicknamed silver Tina after finishing second in the GS at the 2009 Worlds taking a pair of second-place results at the Vancouver Games (SG and GS). “It seems I am always losing to a German or Austrian girl by hundredths. Next time I have to be first and somebody else second.”

American Julia Mancuso, Tuesday’s super G silver medalist, was the top North American in seventh after moving up from ninth in the downhill.

“I definitely needed to charge harder in the slalom and was a little conservative. I think I was a little nervous at the start because the course set was really turny," said Mancuso who called the conditions on the slalom hill soft and spring like."I'm looking forward to the downhill, but I'm not sure I'll do another training run. Every race is a challenge and I definitely want to do well. So far the speed track has been pretty good to me, so we'll see."

American Laurenne Ross led her team into the afternoon slalom with the sixth-fastest downhill time (1:50.70). In the slalom, she straddled a gate early but stuck with it, hiking for several seconds to pull in the 28th finish.

"[The downhill] was just really tiring and super taxing on your body because it's so long and bumpy,” said Ross, whose career best World Cup result came in December with a 16th in Val d’Isere."This slalom is not a joke. All other super combined races are run on the bottom of the downhill course, so they’re typically pretty flat and fairly easy. Normally you get maybe six gates on a steep hill, but this was just steep the whole way down."

Lindsey Vonn, who in December won this season’s only World Cup super combined, ran the morning downhill leg (12th), but opted not to compete in the afternoon slalom to continue recovering from a concussion she sustained last week. Her participation upcoming races and training is being evaluated on a daily basis. She finished seventh in the super G.

Despite a roar of support from the thousands of local fans in attendance at both venues, German Maria Riesch was hampered with the continued flu symptoms that kept her out of yesterday’s second downhill training. She finished 11th overall today after collapsing with exhaustion in the downhill finish area.

“If top people are not in best shape and this became apparent, you realize they aren't as strong as they ought to be...  but we all have our ups and downs, we get sick, we have crashes... maybe is unlucky circumstance, but maybe it opens chances for others,” said Fenninger when asked about the missing top racers. “You can never assign the medals ahead of things. Championships are something special.”

Another Austrian, Nicole Hosp, rocketed to the fastest slalom run of the day (51.66 seconds) to finish 12th overall after coming in 27th in the downhill.

Swiss star Lara Gut competed in both runs, originally being assigned a fifth-place result in the downhill. After taking a huge, summersaulting fall when she hit a gate in the slalom race, she discovered she should never have started the slalom leg as officials handed down a disqualification after reviewing footage of the downhill. She skied to the slalom finish area after the fall but shook her head at questioning reporters on her way off the hill, obviously shaken by the tumble.

The women will have their second downhill training tomorrow ahead of Sunday's World Championship downhill race.

For more details including results visit SkiRacing.com.

This content is courtesy of Ski Racing Magazine
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