Tuesday December 28, 2010 Squaw’s Mancuso 5th, Vonn 7th in Semmering GS

SEMMERING, Austria (Dec. 28) – Three-time Olympic medalist Julia Mancuso (Squaw Valley, CA) nearly returned to the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup giant slalom podium Tuesday after skiing an incredibly clean second run to finish fifth. Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO) and Sarah Schleper (also Vail) continued the strong day for Americans in 7th and 15th respectively. Tessa Worley of France matched Ted Ligety (Park City, UT) on the women’s side winning her third consecutive GS this season with a wire-to-wire victory.

The race will air at 12 p.m. ET on Universal Sports TV and is available for streaming at www.UniversalSports.com.

Germany went 2-3 with Maria Riesch regaining the overall lead from Vonn with second, while reigning World Cup GS champion Katrhin Hoezl was third. Megan McJames (Park City, UT), the only other American starter, missed qualifying for a second run by just seven-hundreths.

“I’ve been skiing so good in training, so it’s nice to put a run together,” said Mancuso, who was just .39 off the podium. “First run I was getting knocked around a little and couldn’t get back in my rhythm, so it was nice to start a little earlier in the second run. I knew I had a lot of opportunity to move up because it was so tight between the first group.”

“She knows that she’s fast again in GS and she just needs to now make two runs in a row without mistakes,” said Head Coach Alex Hoedlmoser on Mancuso. “The speed is definitely there.”

Mancuso, the 2006 Olympic GS champion, produced the second fastest second run to leap from the 18th position to fifth for her best GS finish since Dec. of 2007. Schleper followed suit and also made a move jumping from 20th in the first run to 15th, scoring World Cup points in her third GS race this season.

“Sarah actually had a pretty good first run and then picked it up a bit in the second run,” said Hoedlmoser. “What she needs right now is to take that confidence and send it down the hill, but this was a good performance for this team. We just had four girls here and Megan was just outside of 30. She pretty much missed it by a blink of an eye and skied a lot better than she has been.”

Despite letting the overall lead slip to Riesch, the race continued Vonn’s resurgence in giant slalom as she matched her finish from St. Moritz two weeks ago to post her third GS point scoring race this season.

“Really good first run from Lindsey,” added Hoedlmoser. “The way she’s skiing GS, she can be on the podium anytime. What’s missing is that last little bit of risk and then she’s going to be on the podium in GS too.”

At just over an hour drive from metro Vienna, the biennial World Cup stop in Semmering is one of the highest attended women’s races of the season. Thousands packed the stands and lined the fences Tuesday, but thousands more are expected for Wednesday’s night slalom.

“There were already tons of people out today and tomorrow’s going to be crazy,” said Mancuso. “We’re so close to Vienna and they really love ski racing around here. it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

First run start time for the slalom is set for 9 a.m. ET with live streaming on www.UniversalSports.com. The race will then air at 3 p.m. ET on Universal TV.

Audi FIS Alpine World Cup
Semmering, Austria – Dec. 28, 2010
Giant Slalom

1. Tessa Worley, France, 2:09.66
2. Maria Riesch, Germany, 2:10.28
3. Katrhin Hoelzl, Germany, 2:10.44
4. Elisabeth, Goergl, Austria, 2:10.51
5. Julia Mancuso, Squaw Valley, CA, 2:10.83

7. Lindsey Vonn, Vail, CO, 2:11.06
15. Sarah Schleper, Vail, CO, 2.11.81

Did not qualify first run: Megan McJames, Park City, UT

For complete results: http://www.fis-ski.com/Julia Mancuso speeds to fifth in Semmering (Getty Images/AFP - Joe Klamar)