Julia Mancuso’s swift 2nd giant slalom run not enough for medal; Germany tightens medal race

By Jaime Aron, AP
Thursday, February 25, 2010

Mancuso fast, not enough for giant slalom medal

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Julia Mancuso was third fastest in Thursday’s second run of the giant slalom, which wasn’t enough to overcome a frustrating performance in the first run a day earlier. She wound up eighth, an end to her Vancouver Olympics that was both encouraging and even more frustrating.

What if she hadn’t been forced to stop her first run because injured teammate Lindsey Vonn was still on the ground? Would that trip have been similar to this one? Did she deserve to have been back on the medals stand in an event she won four years ago in Turin?

“I felt I was able to put down a really good second run today,” she said. “It just wasn’t enough. … I was pretty close, but I guess I’ll wait for another four years.”

Mancuso is planning to skip the final women’s Alpine event, the slalom on Friday. That closes her 2010 Winter Games with a pair of silver medals.

Vonn plans to ski the race, even though that tumble left her with a broken right pinkie and a bunch more bruises to go with her bum right shin.

Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany won the giant slalom, a stunning feat for a woman who’d never won a major race, and another German took silver in the women’s cross-country relay. That puts Germany into the lead for the most gold medals with eight, and trims the United States’ lead in the overall count to two, 28-26.

Marit Bjoergen of Norway won the women’s cross-country relay, making her the first person in Vancouver to collect three golds and four overall medals. The Norwegians are now tied with the U.S. and Canada for second-most golds with seven.

Four more gold medals were to be awarded Thursday, with Kim Yu-na taking a commanding lead into the women’s figure skating free skate and a clash of titans in women’s hockey, the United States vs. Canada.

The other events are men’s aerials and Nordic combined’s individual 10Km.


Germany hadn’t won this event since 1956. Rebensburg was highly unlikely to be the drought-buster.

Just ask her.

“Unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable,” she said.

The 20-year-old Rebensburg was sixth after the opening run. Her second run was only seventh-best and she expected at least one of the remaining skiers to top her. Obviously, they couldn’t.

“She should experience this moment right now,” said her teammate Maria Riesch, winner of the super combined. “It all goes by like a film and tonight she will shake her head and wonder what happened.”


A U.S. bobsledder who is supposed to compete Friday was detained and released by Canadian police.

Nobody is saying much other than confirm that something happened with Bill Schuffenhauer, a push athlete for the USA-3 four-man bobsled squad.

The USOC said it was not immediately clear why he was detained. U.S. coach Brian Shimer said, “We’re just getting ready to race.”


American Johnny Spillane is in good shape for a third medal, finishing second in the large hill ski jumping portion of his event.

Spillane was fortunate to be part of the jumpers who went off before weather worsened. The change in conditions hurt some of the top jumpers behind him. There already had been one restart, with the scores of the first wave erased.

“It’s like a lottery. Some guys got good conditions, some others terrible conditions,” said World Cup leader Jason Lamy Chappuis, of France, who won the gold in the normal hill 10K but had to start this race in 29th place.

American Billy Demong was to start sixth, teammate Todd Lodwick 14th.


Bjoergen joined the growing trend of skiers pausing on the way to the finish to grab a flag. Like the others who did it, she was well ahead.

Norway won its first women’s relay gold since 1984, having settled for silver five times.

Bjoergen also won the individual sprint and 15K pursuit, and took bronze in the 10K freestyle.


Finland beat Sweden 3-2 in overtime for the bronze medal in women’s hockey, which was essentially the prize for being best of the rest after the dominating duo of the U.S. and Canada.

Finland hadn’t won a medal since taking bronze when women’s hockey debuted at the 1998 Winter Olympics. The Finns celebrated as it they’d won gold, throwing their gear and sharing a group hug. Sweden’s goalie stood frozen in front of her net, watching it all.

There’s such a drop after the top two teams that there’s been speculation about women’s hockey being cut from the Olympics. Unlikely, says IOC president Jacques Rogge, adding that the spot will get another Winter Games or two for the rest of the world to catch up.

“Women’s hockey is a growing sport,” Rogge said. “There is no doubt that in the future women’s hockey will be a hit.”


In the ongoing dispute over whether the NHL will let its players participate in the 2014 Sochi Games, the head of Russia’s pro hockey league says it would be a serious mistake for the NHL to stand in their way.

Alex Medvedev said he met three times in Vancouver with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. Bettman is concerned about shutting down the NHL season during the Olympics. He also has doubts about an Olympics in which the hockey would be played at a time when many North American fans would be asleep.


IOC president Jacques Rogge says the death of a Georgian luger will forever be associated with the Vancouver Games, just as the slaying of Israeli athletes remains a legacy of the Munich Olympics.

Rogge said the IOC accepted a “moral responsibility” for the tragedy but not any legal responsibility.

“There will always be risk in sport, but it has to be reasonable and the athletes take a lot of risk themselves,” he said.

He also expects Russian organizers to make sure the sliding track is safe for the 2014 Sochi Games.

“The IOC has been very clear in saying to the Russians: Please deliver us a track that will not be hazardous,” Rogge said.


It’ll be Sweden vs. Canada in the women’s finals.

The defending gold medalists from Sweden KO’d the reigning world champion Chinese in one semifinal, and the hosts took out Switzerland on a late shot.

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