WHISTLER CREEKSIDE (Feb. 15) – The U.S. Olympic Alpine Ski Team bore its teeth in a speedy return to action today, with Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO) and Julia Mancuso (Olympic Valley, CA) going 1-2 in the first session of downhill training and four Americans landing among the top 20 in the afternoon session Monday.
Vonn, considered the favorite Wednesday's downhill, continued to test her bruised shin after reporting progress in training Sunday.
"It's tough," she said. "I honestly was expecting it to be a little bit better than it was. Yesterday I trained slalom and it felt OK. But the course here is pretty bumpy – I was pretty shocked. It was like jarring – it was a fight to make it down."
"I was just barely in my tuck any part of the course. I think this is the worst course for my shin. I just have to fight through it, do some therapy now, and hopefully Mother Nature will give me another day off tomorrow. I just have to be able to grit my teeth and fight through it on Wednesday and hopefully still come out on top."
The skiers finished just above the Hot Air finish jump in the morning session and skied the bottom section from the combined slalom start in the afternoon, when Vonn was 20th in the second leg.
Vonn may refrain from training Tuesday, weather or not. She said she was taken aback that her first run time was so fast.
"I was honestly surprised," Vonn said. "I almost went out of the course a couple times. It wasn't bad skiing, it was just fighting to make it down skiing. It's not a feel-good course, it's not a fun course, it's a stick-your-nose-in-it-and-make-it-down course. If you're skiing aggressive and not sliding, you'll be fast."
Mancuso added a tie for fifth in the second session as the 2006 giant slalom gold medalist put the speed field on notice.
Also starting in the downhill will be Alice McKennis (Glenwood Springs, CO), who took ninth in her final World Cup downhill in St. Mortiz, Switzerland on Jan. 30 and Stacey Cook (Mammoth Mountain, CA), who was 13th and 14th in Monday's training sessions after a hard crash last week.
Thursday's super combined follows Wednesday's downhill for the women.