Tag Archives: skiing

Julia Mancuso’s Comeback Year: Downhill Gold at FIS Alpine World Cup Finals & More

Universal Sports/ Giovanni Auletta/ Associated Press

Just over a year ago Julia Mancuso made her comeback on the stage of all stages: the Winter Olympic Games. Leaving Vancouver with two silver medals, she went on to Alpine World Cup bronze, as well as wildcard bronze at the Freeride World Tour Closer.

Her climb back to the top continued this season with a World Championship silver in Super G, and multiple trips to the World Cup podium particularly in Downhill and Super G.

To top it all off she had a fantastic golden run for Downhill at the World Cup Finals in Lezerheide (1 minute 27.50 seconds), with a third place overall discipline finish. She is up from fifth last season.

Hence the bottom-of-the-hill celebration above!

Universal Sports

The  World Cup Final gold was her fifth career win on the tour. Mancuso wrote, “It’s so great to win… It’s been four years, and only my fifth World Cup victory ever, so standing on the podium felt awesome!” and “Lindsey won the DH title for the year, and I finish 3rd! It’s been great to finish so consistent, and that also makes our US team the winner in the team downhill points too!”

Pretty awesome stuff.

Mancuso finished .81 (which, as the Olympics taught Jimmy Fallon, is like, totally a lot) ahead of Switzerland’s Lara Gut;  Elisabeth Goergl of Germany came in third.

Gut, Mancuso, Goergl/ Universal Sports/ Giovanni Auletta/ Associated Press

Mancuso’s third place ranking overall for Downhill came after silver at Cortina d’Ampezzo and fourth at Lake Louise. Lindsey Vonn took the title; Maria Riesch came in second.

Riesch, Vonn, Mancuso/ Kiyoko Kipo Press CH

Mancuso also had a great season for Super G, claiming third overall for that disciple as well after taking bronze at Lake Louise, fourth at Cortina D’Ampezzo, silver at the Championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, bronze at Are, and silver at Tarvisio.

The Super G race scheduled for the Finals was canceled due to weather. As per FIS guidelines canceled races are not rescheduled—hence all the Vonn-Riesch drama that resulted from two canceled races last week.

And drumroll…

After all this season’s hard work, Mancuso finished overall—across all disciplines—in fifth place behind Riesch, Vonn, Tina Maze and Goergl.

Congratulations on a great season Julia!

***

Also, now would be a great time for the snow to stop and for the weather to behave and be warm and spring-like.

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Anticlimax at Lenzerheide: Riesch-Vonn Season Finale Canceled, Riesch Takes Overall Title

Vonn, Riesch, Tina Maze on Overall Podium/ Universal Sports/ Wolfgang Rattay/ Reuters

After a week of warm, wet weather in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, the women’s overall title came down to three points and two canceled races.

Germany’s Maria Riesch led American Lindsey Vonn for much of the season, though they did pass the lead back and forth. This week of World Cup Finals was to be an epic duel between the two. Vonn overcame a 200 point deficit to arrive only 23 points behind Riesch at the beginning of this week of competition.

Vonn then earned 50 points from her Downhill performance, leading Riesch by 27 points on Wednesday, while her rival failed to earn any points, landing devastated in 17th place.

Riesch Slalom, Run 1/ Universal Sports/ Wolfgang Rattay/ Reuters

Not to be outdone, Riesch struck back in the Slalom on Friday, gleaning a narrow margin of 3 points over Vonn—otherwise known as .02 seconds.

I mean… seriously. Ser-i-ous-ly.

With the Super G canceled on Thursday, the world of ladies Alpine skiing was to come down to a final head-to-head duel in Saturday’s Giant Slalom.

The weather would not have it. Warm, wet, foggy:

“It is basically the same situation that we saw yesterday for the men’s race,” said FIS women’s World Cup race director Atle Skaardal. “There is a crust on top of the snow and nothing underneath. It’s impossible to ski on such a soft crust. The situation is not skiable for a GS race.” (FIS)

Riesch apparently found out about the cancellation as she was leaving for the slopes:

“I was in front of the hotel. Some people at the balcony said, ‘Yeah, it’s officially canceled.’ I didn’t believe at first,” she said. “We were crying, full of happiness” (Universal Sports).

Riesch, Vonn/ Universal Sports/ Wolfgang Rattay/ Reuters

Three. Points. 1,728-1725.

Vonn of course was “devastated” not to have had a chance to defend the overall World Cup title she has held for three straight years, noting of course that Riesch is one of her best friends and “had an outstanding season and again proved to be my biggest competitor. She’s worked really hard for this. I’m happy for her” (Universal Sports).

Still, ending the season that way, winner or loser is kind of a bummer. Oh well.

Riesch/ Universal Sports/ Christian Hartman/ Reuters

At least Riesch has that massive crystal globe to cheer her up, and Vonn still has three sitting at home, plus three new [smaller] trophies for the three discipline wins she collected this week.

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Helmet Shenanigans: Ski Racer Style

UniversalSports.com/ Wolfgang Rattay/ Reuters

I might never not regret that I missed this last week.

Sandra-Elena Narea of Romania wore this fetching helmet complete with plush leopard print ears during her slalom run at Alpine Worlds  in Garmisch-Partenkirchen (which—victory is mine—I no longer have to Google in order to spell).

I  freely admit I know nothing about this woman, but I feel that might be about to change.

Makes me think back wistfully to the crazy helmet slide shows from the Vancouver Olympics.

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Catching Up with Julia Mancuso: 2011 FIS Alpine World Championships

NBCnewyork.com/Vancouver 2010

Remember Julia Mancuso and her tiara (actual and helmet)?

Obviously she is a favorite at Words to Bumble.

As you may have noticed here, the FIS Alpine World Championships (not to be confused with World Cup Finals which are still to come, that season still having some time left) have been going down at Garmisch-Partenkirchen in the Bavarian Alps (which incidentally hosted the 1936 Olympics, the first featuring Alpine skiing according to Wikipedia).

Fun facts.

Julia Mancuso/ UniversalSports.com/ Michael Ebenbichler/ Reuters

Julia Mancuso performed well in the speed events, taking silver in the Ladies’ Super-G on February 8th, one of her particularly strong events this season.

Elisabeth Goergl/ UniversalSports.com/ Michael Dalder/ Reuters

And what do we love about Olympic sports? The crazy lengthening that time undergoes: Mancuso came in .05 behind gold medalist Elisabeth Goergl (who did some serious owning at these Worlds).

According to Mancuso, that’s about 4 feet.

In the other speed events Mancuso finished a couple of places off the podium: 6th in the downhill and 7th in the Super-Combined.

Later in the week she finished 16th in the GS and Did Not Finish her first run in the Slalom, which was particularly unfortunate for American viewers because that was the last and one of the few events that aired on NBC Saturday afternoon.

The Slalom course was literally eating people alive. Apparently the temperature was pretty warm to begin with, and on Saturday it got even warmer and slushier. I think NBC’s broadcast showed three if not four wipe-outs in a row for the second run, prompting commentator Christin Cooper to say, “the toughest competition is the condition of the course.”

A more florid assessment of slalom in general was given by commentator/mediator Tim Ryan who said, “In slalom, anything can happen. It’s such a capricious sport.”

The commentating was not quite at an Olympic level, but props for vocabulary.

Mancuso & Svindal post-race/ DayLife.com

As for other fun facts, Universal Sports brought it to our attention that Julia Mancuso tweets about “Norwegian Viking” Aksel Lund Svindal because he is her boyfriend.

In honor of Valentine’s Day a Universal Sports reporter handed the microphone off to Mancuso and had her interview Svindal after his gold medal win in the Men’s Super-Combined (interview towards end of video).

It was kind of awkward.

**

P.S.
Sadly, I did not see the famed tiara helmet being worn at Worlds. For a moment I thought I did, but it was just another aqua Sprint sponsor helmet.

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2011 FIS Alpine Skiing World Championship: The Team Event

Teams Austria, France, Sweden on the podium/ UniversalSports.com/Kerstin Joensson/ Associated Press

Well, last year’s FIS Audi World Cup Final was sad because Universal Sports didn’t air or stream the GS team event which sounds awesomely entertaining with it’s side-by-side bracketed heat format. Yesterday morning the team event was presented for the third time at the FIS Alpine World Championships (also in Garmisch-Partenkirchenm GER), and due to cable misfortunes that involve my provider not caring about Olympic sports/carrying Universal Sports… I missed it again.

I was this close to ordering the online package, but it seemed like a waste since the World Champ event is more than half over. Watching sports in retrospect is boring.

Team USA included Bode Miller (who you may recall had an attitude reboot in Vancouver) Ted Ligety, Julia Mancuso (who won silver in the Super G Championship right between Elisabeth Goergl and Maria Riesch) and Sarah Schleper (who roars when she leaves the gate).

Rough city: Bode Miller was the only American to win his run against Italy, leaving Team USA with a 3-1 record.

The way it works is that each team has four runs (two male and two female team members participate). Each races in a head-to-head parallel heats against the country that they’re lined up with in the bracket (in this case, USA-ITA). Every win is worth one point, the total deciding advancement, clearly.

Bode Miller vs. Christian Deville of Italy/ UniversalSports.com/ Kerstin Joensson/ Associated Press

At any rate, Team USA did not move forward.

In other news France (my adopted country of enthusiasm) beat out Austria for the gold (they tied in points, but was France better in times), followed by Sweden (who beat Italy 4-0).

Team France/ UniversalSports.com/ Matthias Schrader/ Associated Press

Now, as you may know, sometimes I like to evaluate obscure winter sports by the names of the athletes involved. Alpine Skiers Elisabeth Goergl, Aksel Lund Svindal, and Didier Cuche made my Olympic list. This French team victory brings to my attention a few more amazing athlete names and might just provide insight into their edge over the Austrians (who, let’s face it, are skiing beasts): Cyprien Richard, Anemone Marmottan (named after the least pronounceable flower/ sea creature?)—those are winning names.

Just putting it out there.

According to a recap from UniversalSports.com, this is how some of the Americans feel about the event which some officials want to introduce at the 2014 Olympic games in Sochi, Russia.

Julia Mancuso, who competed for the U.S. team, said she found the format fun but isn’t all that eager to have it at the Olympics.

“I am kind of in the middle. It’s a lot of fun,” she said. “It’s good to be with the guys. And I mean, it’s kind of those events where anything can happen. It’s cool. We don’t do it a lot, so it’s kind of different. It’s almost like an exhibition. Of course, winning a team event is nothing compared to winning an individual event.”

Another of the Americans, Ted Ligety, saw it similarly.

“It’s a cool event,” he said. “It’s fun to watch, it’s fun to race. Our scheduling in ski racing is so tough that doing this in the middle of a championships is always hard.

“If we had it on the last day, it would make more sense,” Ligety said. “It would be interesting to see it at the Olympics but, then again, it’s all about the timing. This is far less important than an individual medal.”

I still want to watch it.

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Mancuso Gets Xtreme at Verbier’s Bec des Rosses: Freeride World Tour Closer

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xtremeverbier.com

At the end of the Alpine World Cup tour earlier in the month, Julia Mancuso accepted the chance to be a wild card entry in the Nissan Xtreme close to the 2010 Freeride World Tour at Verbier, skiing down the 600 meter vertical face of the Bec des Rosses. It was her first freeride competition, and she continued the strong streak she has been riding since the Olympic games, clocking the fastest time down the mountain and placing third behind overall [defending and 2010] champion Ane Enderud (Norway) and second ranked Jess McMillan (USA).

xtremeverbier.com

It is a pretty epic affair, hiking up the mountain, being filmed by helicopters and jumping over  natural rock features to the bottom and arriving in one piece. The point being to confront the nature of the mountain, un-groomed for competition. It does not look safe. Not a bit.

xtremeverbier.com

Competitors are judged by a panel of three skiers and snowboarders who take into consideration the difficulty of the skier’s choice of line, the fluidity of their run, quality of the jumps, the level of control demonstrated and of course– crashes. Obviously crashes go down a lot in ski competitions and freeriding, as one may surmise, sees a fair amount of carnage. The final score is based on the overall impression the rider makes on the judges.

Mancuso missed a few features towards the bottom, surprised by the speed she built up: “I followed J.T. Holmes’ advice not to stall before taking the jump and I got so much speed I missed some features in the end.”

After the race she tweeted and posted a status on Facebook; “3rd place in Verbier Xtreme! so fun to be out here with all these ripping girls! they were impressive, pushing their limits! glad to be down safe :)”


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FIS World Cup Women & Wondering Where the Team Event Went

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The award for best location name goes to Garmisch-Partenkirchen for the Audi FIS World Cup Finals in Germany. Self-explanatory.

UniversalSports.com

The expected and the unexpected went down this week during the final events of the Alpine season. The names we learned to love during the Olympics were out in full force, plus a few that perhaps we had missed. The rivalry spotlight got redirected to Lindsey Vonn versus Marie Riesch of Germany and the [non]race for the overall title. Julia Mancuso continued to ski strong post Olympics and Crans-Montana, skiing into fifth place for the downhill, only her second time inside the top ten in the past two years. Junior downhill champion Jeromine Geroudet posted a respectable time in her first World Cup race, winning applause from field leaders Vonn, Riesch and Anja Paerson.

UniversalSports.com

And although prior to claiming her third overall World Cup title Vonn was heard to say that “She’s always on my tail.. Anything’s still possible, nothing’s over until it’s over: Just keep fighting and hopefully I can do it.” Closest contender for the title,  Marie Riesch laughed it off and cut to the chase saying, “I don’t think that she really believes it,” but Riesch certainly gave Vonn a run for her money through the entire competition, including the downhill final in which she bested Vonn by .48.. which– as Jimmy Fallon noted– is a lot. It must have been the excellent zebra-striped speed suit that Riesch and the other German ladies rock. A commentator referred to her as “the big woman, the iron maiden of Germany.” He did.

UniversalSports.com

In the end, Vonn took home the coveted crystal globe, her third consecutive overall title. She also clinched the globes for downhill, super G and Combined. Riesch took the slalom season title, and fellow German teammate Kathrin Hoelzl battled it out with Kathrin Zettel of Austria for the Giant Slalom, on a course that was eating people alive.  All in all it looks like Lindsey Vonn’s raging game-face at the gate has a winning element to it.

Words To Bumble favorite Julia Mancuso’s strong showing included ninth rank in overall downhill after a fifth place finish in the final during which commentators marveled over her Olympic comeback and her lingerie line. It was a little weird– they got completed sidetracked talking about Kiss My Tiara during Nadja Styger’s run (following directly after Mancuso), waxing poetic about the “free-flowing, free-spirited Julia Mancuso”. Commentators Steve Porino and Todd Brooker also illuminated viewers as to Mancuso’s nickname– Midas– with “maybe not the golden touch but the silver touch… Her ability to perform on the big stage is unbelievable. She has something to prove… she wanted the spotlight in Whistler and she got it!” As the pulled ahead of Italian Johanna Schnarf’s leading time they cried, “The momentum she started in Whistler, Canada– still there!”

In addition to her high downhill placement, Mancuso ended the season ranked 16th in the super G (despite crashing in the final), 22nd in the combined and 28th with Vonn for the GS. Looking forward to seeing her continue the comeback tour on next season’s World Cup.

And now for reasons that I am upset: there is an epic Nations Team Event with skiers from both the men’s and women’s teams of each contending country. It is a parallel giant slalom race, 16 round elimination format, four skiers per heat. Sounds awesomely epic right?

Yes. But is Universal Sports airing it? Not so far as I can tell. Not OK. Not. OK. Plus now the results are up and video appears to be no where in existence. This investigation is ongoing and unhappy.

UPDATE: Plus we now find out that Mancuso will be competing on the Bec de Rosses at Verbier as a wild card entry next weekend for the 15th annual Nissan Xtreme close to the Freeride World Tour.

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