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Mancuso, Kildow enter world championships on a roll

ARE, Sweden -- Julia Mancuso wants more medals. Lindsey
Kildow wants a big breakthrough.

Both American skiers enter this weekend's world championships in
Are, Sweden on a roll.

Mancuso had a record streak of five straight top-three finishes, including two wins, in January. Kildow won the final World Cup
race before the worlds, a super-G in San Sicario last Sunday.

"Julia and Lindsey are confident. They've gotten some rest
after this past weekend in San Sicario, and they're ready," U.S.
women's head coach Patrick Riml said. "They'll both be challenging
in downhill and super-G and super-combi. Julia's the Olympic [giant
slalom] champion, and Lindsey will be strong in slalom.

The opening women's race is the super-G on Sunday.

Mancuso won bronze medals in super-G and giant slalom at the
2005 worlds in Bormio, then confirmed her knack for performing well
at big competitions at the 2006 Turin Olympics.

"It's always good to have a big event. I really feed off
everyone else's excitement, having people around, my family, being
with the men's team," Mancuso said. "I feel like everything just
gets brought to another level. I'm excited to experience that
again."

Although she might skip the slalom, Mancuso could ski all five
events.

"No matter whether it's a GS, super-G, downhill or slalom, I
just feel really confident that I can accomplish what I set out to
do," she said.

Kildow finished fourth twice at the last worlds and did not
contend for medals at last year's Olympics after crashing in
downhill training.

"I feel I have a lot to prove at big championships," Kildow
said. "I have to deal with the pressure. I'm hoping, hoping and
hoping that I can get a medal."

The past two seasons, Kildow started strong and then went into a
midseason slump. She did the same thing this season but showed
signs of a revival last weekend with two top-three finishes.

"I feel like it's coming up right at the right moment," Kildow
said. "I'm going into world championships with that positive
energy, with two podiums in one weekend. That's a really good
feeling. I just have to stick to my program, stay relaxed and have
fun."

Kildow also could ski five events but likely will skip the giant
slalom.

"I want to get ready for slalom. It's a really good hill for
me, pretty flat," Kildow said. "I'm really excited for downhill,
super-G and combined. Those are all really good disciplines for
me."

Kildow's and Mancuso's top rivals will be local favorite Anja
Paerson of Sweden in all events, and Austria's Renate Goetschl in
the speed races -- super-G and downhill.

Paerson has struggled to regain her form this season following
knee surgery and hasn't won since the downhill at the World Cup
finals in Are last season. She skipped the San Sicario races to go
home and train for the worlds.

At the last worlds, Paerson won the super-G and giant slalom.
Janica Kostelic, who won the other three events, is taking this
season off.

Goetschl enters in top form. She won two races and finished
second in the other in San Sicario, vaulting her atop the overall
World Cup standings.

Unlike Paerson, Goetschl never has been a great performer in big
events. She never has won a gold medal at the Olympics and has two
golds in six World Championships.

"I don't have big expectations," Goetschl said. "A World
Championship or Olympics is always a little bit different -- one
race, one day, and you need good conditions. Everything must play
together. Hopefully I can win something."

Goetschl missed the finals in Are last season with an injury and
does not know the course.

"Our girls have been there. We've trained on that hill," U.S.
speed coach Alex Hoedlmoser said.

In the tech events -- slalom and giant slalom -- Austrians Marlies
Schild and Nicole Hosp will be among the favorites.

Another American medal threat is Resi Stiegler in slalom and
combined.

"Resi is rested after a week at home, and we've got some others
coming. I think we're ready," Riml said. "And, even better, so do
the girls."