Will Vonn's crash keep Mancuso off podium?

February, 24, 2010

WHISTLER, British Columbia -- Lindsey Vonn's wipeout didn't just cost the Americans one chance at a medal in the women's giant slalom Wednesday, but quite possibly two.

During the first leg of a weather-torn giant slalom that led to the postponement of the second leg until Thursday, Vonn's wipeout 10 gates from the finish may have contributed to ending Julia Mancuso's medal chances.

Vonn and Mancuso were scheduled to ski 17th and 18th, respectively. After receiving a report from her husband, Thomas Vonn, that the course (already hampered by snow and limited visibility due to a thick fog) was choppy near the bottom, Vonn broke hard out of the gate hoping to take advantage of the faster snow to put time pressure on the day's leader, Elisabeth Goergl of Austria. Vonn did exactly that, slicing down the course in her patented low-crouching power style.

"I thought I had the right direction coming over that last roll, but I hit a bump, got tangled up and went into the net," Vonn said. "That's ski racing for you. I was hoping for something today, but it just wasn't my day."

She was beating Goergl's pace until she clipped the right gate, spun awkwardly into the left gate and turned backward into the side fence. Vonn was down momentarily before being able to ski slowly down the hill. Race officials halted the race with a yellow flag, but not before Mancuso had already begun her run.

As Mancuso raced down the mountain, Vonn was still on the course, forcing the stoppage. Mancuso then had to return to the top of the hill and wait to be rescheduled.

"It's more just emotionally draining. I just spoke to Jules and she's disappointed," said Chemmy Alcott of Great Britain. "She had to go up on the gondola on her own. You're in your zone, you're in your focus, and then it stops and you have to spend 15 minutes on your own contemplating what happened and what you'll do again and it's really tough. That's why she's a bit upset right now."

"I know she's disappointed and I feel terrible, but I crashed," Vonn said. "I don't want to crash myself, let alone hurt my teammate's chances of getting medal, so I feel terrible. I hope she understands. I didn't want that to happen for the both of us, so I hope she has a good second run."

Because of visibility issues, the second run was pushed to 9:30 a.m. PT on Thursday and will be 10 gates shorter. Following a continued delay that lasted nearly two hours, officials chose to postpone the remainder of the afternoon. Goergl leads after one run with a time of 1:15.12 seconds, Taina Barioz of France is second at 1:15.14 and Kathrin Zettel of Austria is third, .26 seconds behind the leader. Mancuso is 18th, 1.30 behind Goergl.

Howard Bryant | email

ESPN Senior Writer



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