Halfway into Olympics, US ski racers have 1 medal

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 15, 2014 at 10:05 am •  Published: February 15, 2014

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — As Julia Mancuso and other Alpine skiers from the United States muddled their way through some less-than-auspicious results in pre-Olympic races on the World Cup circuit, the team's thinking — well, the hope, really — was that they'd get in gear at the Winter Games.

Hasn't happened so far in Sochi.

Midway through the 10-event Alpine schedule, the Americans have won only one of the 15 medals awarded, Mancuso's bronze in the super-combined. Some individual athletes from other countries already have twice as many.

Things look particularly bleak when compared to what happened at the 2010 Vancouver Games: The U.S. had seven medals through five races and finished with eight, helped by a gold and bronze from Lindsey Vonn, who is sidelined this time after knee surgery.

"We probably expected a little more, to be honest," U.S. Alpine director Patrick Riml said Saturday, when only two of four American competitors completed the super-G race.

Mancuso led the way with an eighth-place finish, then acknowledged, "There's definitely some disappointments."

Her teammate Leanne Smith was 18th; as the second starter on a difficult course, she was the only one of the first eight women to finish, and called herself "the guinea pig." The other Americans, Laurenne Ross and Stacey Cook, were among 18 of 49 entrants who failed to make it through all 43 gates successfully.

Cook fell on her right side while trying to navigate a turn and wound up tumbling through a gate. Team spokesman Doug Haney said Cook was a "little bruised ... but OK."

Austria's Anna Fenninger won the gold in 1 minute, 25.52 seconds, more than 1½ seconds faster than Mancuso, and another Austrian, Nicole Hosp, added the super-G bronze to her silver in the super-combined, giving that country an Alpine-leading four medals.

Germany's Maria Hoefl-Riesch got the silver Saturday; she won the gold in the super-combined. Neither was surprising in the least: Hoefl-Riesch leads the overall World Cup standings this season. Mikaela Shiffrin is the highest American at No. 6; Mancuso is next at 20th, followed by Cook at 22nd, Smith at 50th and Ross at 77th.

"If you do well before, on World Cup, you go in with confidence. And the U.S. didn't do that good in World Cup," said Thomas Stauffer, Germany's Alpine head coach for women. "It's hard to just go in and (say), 'It's the Olympics, I'm peaking now.'"

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