Another silver for Mancuso 

Vonn clips gate, crashes in super combined race

No one overshadows Julia Mancuso anymore.

On Wednesday the 25-year-old American skier earned a surprise silver medal in the women's downhill, finishing only behind star teammate Lindsey Vonn. One day later Mancuso equaled the feat, winning another silver medal in the super combined event at Whistler Creekside and becoming the first American woman with three career medals in Alpine skiing.

That wasn't the expected storyline entering the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Vonn began the Games as the public face of the United States contingent. She was the centerpiece of NBC's television coverage and appeared on magazine covers across the country. But Vonn, who led after the downhill portion of Thursday's race, fell midway through her slalom run and did not finish.

That left the door open for Mancuso, an outgoing personality who already had won a gold medal in giant slalom at the 2006 Games in Torino. After the downhill run, Mancuso was in third place with a time of 1 minute, 24.96 seconds. Vonn led at 1:24.16, but during her slalom attempt clipped a gate and had her ski pop off. Mancuso, meanwhile, finished ninth in slalom for an overall time of 2:10.08 -- just .11 faster than bronze medalist Anja Paerson (Sweden).

"I found my slalom somewhere. It's been hiding," Mancuso said. "I was nervous in the start, but I was also really excited. I knew that it was all or nothing."

Mancuso is a popular free spirit who splits her time between homes on Maui and Squaw Valley, Calif. She even took to wearing a tiara during races in Torino and donned it again at Wednesday's downhill medal ceremony. Mancuso, though, has struggled with back and hip injuries since 2006 and her results during this year's World Cup season were inconsistent.

"But there isn't any question that [Mancuso] competes well in the big events," U.S. Ski and Snowboard president Bill Marolt said.

Vonn admitted afterward she was still fighting her injured right shin with no time to recover after her gold-medal performance in the downhill. It also didn't help that she last skied slalom three-and-a-half weeks ago and has struggled in that event throughout the World Cup season.

"I could have skied a safe run and probably still got a bronze medal, but I didn't really want to do that," Vonn said. "I was trying to win a race today and that's what happens when you are fighting hard. Mistakes happen."

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Brian McNally


I've been given the chance to write about some of the best athletes in the world. Can't imagine a job more fun than that.
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