Squaw’s Mancuso 21st in Courchevel Slalom

COURCHEVEL, France (Dec. 21) – Julia Mancuso (Squaw Valley, CA) produced her best Audi FIS Alpine World Cup slalom result since 2008, finishing 21st with teammate Resi Stiegler (Jackson Hole, WY) in 23rd. Austrian Marlies Schild captured the victory Tuesday as an extremely tricky first run course set claimed 23 racers including World Cup leader Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO) and Germany’s Maria Riesch.

The race will air at 12:15 p.m. ET on Universal Sports TV with streaming also available at www.UniversalSports.com. Schild is now tied with Finn Tanja Poutiainen, who finished second, for the slalom points lead.

“It was like a survival first run and I definitely got pretty lucky,” said Mancuso. “I wanted to ski solid, but I guess I needed to be a little faster. It will be good to have a little break now over Christmas and then get back into it. I’m very fired up with how things are going.”

With the exception of the Aspen slalom, Mancuso has surged since landing double silver at the Vancouver Olympics, scoring top 25 finishes in every World Cup race this season including a super G third two weeks ago in Lake Louise, Alberta.

“It was a good day for Julia to take advantage,” said technical Head Coach Trevor Wagner. “She’s been training great slalom and just took it to the hill today.”

For Stiegler, who waved to the booming crowd of thousands then wished a worldwide television audience “Merry Christmas” after crossing the finish line, it was another huge leap toward regaining her World Cup form. She was 25th in Aspen, her first race back since suffering a severely broken leg two races into the Olympic season. Prior to that, she had been sidelined much of the two previous winters with an injury string that began in Dec. 2007.

“Resi is making some big steps,” said Wagner. “She just has to get used to skiing long courses and gaining some more endurance because right now she’s running out of energy on the last half of the course.”

Thousands packed the finish stadium and lined the slope to see the best skiers as the World Cup returned to Courchevel snow for the first time since 1979.

“I actually love the hill, it’s a perfect hill,” added Vonn. “The town is great and there are a ton of people here cheering loud for every racer.”

Vonn had a solid run going until slamming the tip of her right ski into a gate 30 seconds into the course on a section that claimed multiple racers.

“It was a challenging course with offset rhythm, and a lot of very, very tight combinations,” said Vonn. “There was a lot of very strange things going on the course today, but as athletes you have to try to do the best you can.”

The course also caused trouble for four-time Olympian Sarah Schleper (Vail, CO) and Hailey Duke (Boise, ID), who missed qualifying for the second run.

“Sarah was fourth at the split going onto the flats and then it got really swingy and caught up to her,” added Wagner. “Sarah’s stoked with her performance, she just didn’t look far enough ahead.”

With both Vonn and Riesch failing to finish, the overall lead is on pause until the World Cup resumes Dec. 28-29 in Semmering, Austria for a two-race technical series.

Audi FIS Alpine World Cup
Courchevel, France – Dec. 21, 2010

1. Marlies Schild, Austra, 1:34.95
2. Tanja Poutiainen, Finland, 1:35.73
3. Tina Maze, Slovenia, 1:36.93
4. Maria Pietilae-Holmner, Sweden, 1:37.20
5. Kathrin Zettel, Austria, 1:37.21

21. Julia Mancuso, Squaw Valley, CA, 1:39.53
23. Resi Stiegler, Jackson Hole, WY, 1:39.62

Did not qualify for 2nd run: Sarah Schleper (Vail, CO), Hailey Duke (Boise, ID)

Did not finish 1st run: Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO)

For complete results: http://www.fis-ski.com/