U.S. hits bump with Lindsey Vonn crash, Julia Mancuso discord
A bizarre day ended Wednesday at the Winter Olympics with a crash by U.S. alpine star Lindsey Vonn, a rerun by teammate Julia Mancuso, a race fogged out at the halfway point and revelations of discord between the U.S. team's two best women skiers.
Special to The Seattle Times
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WHISTLER, B.C. — A bizarre day ended Wednesday at the Olympics with a crash by U.S. alpine star Lindsey Vonn, a rerun by teammate Julia Mancuso, a race fogged out at the halfway point and revelations of discord between the U.S. team's two best women skiers.
Oh, and an Austrian skier could make Olympic history.
The second run of women's giant slalom is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Thursday at Whistler Creekside. Elisabeth Goergl leads at 1 minute, 15.2 seconds after only one of two runs was completed due to heavy afternoon fog.
Goergl leads France's Taina Barioz by two-hundredths of a second. In third is Goergl's teammate, Kathrin Zettel, 16-hundredths behind the leader. If either Austrian holds on, she will be the first from her country to win Olympic gold in giant slalom.
The top American, Sarah Schleper, is 14th, 1.07 behind Goergl. Defending Olympic champion Mancuso is 18th. Sammamish's Yina Moe-Lange, 16, skiing for Denmark, is 57th of 68 finishers.
Giant slalom is the only World Cup event in which Vonn has not reached the podium. She started 17th and led Goergl by .35 of a second at the third split before she skidded out of a gate and slammed onto her left hip before sliding into safety netting, breaking the pinkie finger on her right hand.
"My outside ski got caught in the soft snow, my inside knee hit my chin and I just got twisted up and tangled and went down pretty hard," Vonn said. "I was so tangled up, I was like a pretzel in the nets."
Combined with her severe shin bruise and an aching back, Vonn said she hadn't decided if she will ski in Friday's slalom.
As she untangled herself, teammate Julia Mancuso, starting 18th, was already on course.
Having two skiers on course is not unusual, though it usually happens only after the first 30 skiers. On Wednesday, intervals between all racers was shortened due to snow and fog.
Part way through a run in which she led after the first timed section, Mancuso was flagged off the course and told to restart. She caught the gondola back up the mountain, starting 31st, after conditions had deteriorated further.
Mancuso covered her face with her hands after crossing the finish line and was later seen crying.
Posted on her Twitter account: "I just want to scream. I'm really miffed. Anyway, gotta take that energy and focus it for 2nd run."
Mancuso did not talk to reporters after her run. Vonn said she "felt terrible" Mancuso had to restart. Not only is it difficult mentally and physically, but the course gets worse and wax is rubbed off skis.
"She was at a huge disadvantage to have to run again," Vonn said. "That absolutely was not what I wanted but it happened, and that happens in ski racing and all you can do is deal with the hand you were dealt."
In live video from the start area as skiers waited for the weather to clear, Mancuso looked to be over it, hamming it up before the camera and singing along to an iPod.
But after her run, Vonn said she was disheartened by recent critical comments by Mancuso at SI.com, claiming that despite the U.S. alpine team's wildly successful Olympics (eight medals), it is "struggling, as a group" because of the attention Vonn gets.
"People are having a hard time reaching their potential because it's such a struggle for attention," Mancuso said in the story. "You come to meetings after races and it's like it's a bad day if Lindsey didn't do well."
Vonn and Mancuso have raced together since they were kids.
"Yes, we're competitors and I always support her," Vonn said. "It definitely has hurt me that she said some negative things about me, and all I can do is continue to support her like I always have been and hope that she reciprocates that."
Seattle Times transportation reporter Mike Lindblom describes some of the factors that may have led to the collapse of the I-5 bridge over the Skagit River in Mount Vernon on Thursday, May 23.