Alpine skiing-Mancuso halfway to super combined gold, now the hard part
By Martyn Herman
ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Reuters) - American Julia Mancuso threw down the gauntlet to reigning Olympic super combined champion Maria Hoefl-Riesch by building a healthy advantage in the downhill run on Monday.
With the slalom part of the event to come later, Mancuso put 1.04 seconds between herself and her German rival for the first women's Alpine skiing title at the Sochi Games, slicing down a sunlit Rosa Khutor in 1:42.68 to top the leaderboard.
Hoefl-Riesch, who beat Mancuso to gold in Vancouver four years ago, was only fifth quickest after the downhill leg.
The tall German will still be hopeful of charging for gold later in the slalom leg, having had nine career World Cup wins in the technical discipline which is not Mancuso's strength.
She will have her work cut out, however, with the likes of Swiss Lara Gut, who was second 0.47 seconds behind Mancuso, and Slovenian all-rounder Tina Maze (0.86) also in front of her after the downhill.
"It wasn't perfect but a lot can still happen in the slalom," a relaxed-looking Hoefl-Riesch told reporters.
The experienced Mancuso, Olympic gold medalist in giant slalom in Turin in 2006, celebrated as if she had already won the title in the finish area where her grandmother was watching.
"It felt good. I was definitely looking for extra speed when I kicked out of the start gate," she told reporters. Continued...