Alpine Notes: Mancuso sets record straight on relationship with Vonn
Mancuso took great care to say after the race what she hinted at, but did not say explicitly, on the day before. "It's not [Vonn's] fault at all,'' Mancuso said of the Wednesday incident, which resonated more significantly with media and fans because it was Vonn -- of all people -- who created the delay by crashing out. "She didn't wave the yellow flag. She crashed. Of course she didn't want to crash. That's ridiculous.''
Mancuso won two medals in the Games, silvers in downhill and super combined. Ski racing is famously unpredictable, but Mancuso might have won two other medals: She drew start No. 1 in the Super-G, skiing blind, made a terrible mistake high on the course and then killed the rest of it. And then came the GS drama. "I have two silver medals,'' Mancuso said. "Yeah, it could have been more, but leaving here with any sort of medals clinking around my neck is a dream come true.''
Mancuso, who is finished skiing in these Games, also was overcome by tears three times while talking to U.S. media after the race about her friend,
• Vonn will race in Friday's slalom with a splint protecting the non-displaced fracture in her right pinkie finger, suffered at some point in Wednesday's violent crash into the safety netting. It can never be said that Vonn isn't tough: In this season alone she nearly broke her left wrist in a Dec. 28 giant slalom fall in a race in Lienz, Austria; suffered a severe -- and famous -- right shin bruise 10 days before the opening ceremonies for the Olympics; and now, the broken pinkie.
She also crashed in the slalom portion of the super combined here at the Games, bruising assorted body parts.
In seeking a third medal at these Olympics (after gold in downhill and bronze in Super-G), Vonn's slalom is hit or miss -- she can win, or she can fail to qualify for the second run. Since the 2006 Olympic Games, Vonn has raced 32 World Cup slalom races. The tally: Two victories, five podiums and 12 races in which she either didn't finish one of the runs or failed to qualify (based on time) for the second run.
On top of that, her slalom training has been minimal since the shin injury. However: She was ripping in the GS when she crashed, and only 15 seconds from the bottom. So she's going to put herself in the race.
• A story I wrote that was posted
On Thursday, Mancuso said "It's been taken all out of proportion,'' and teammate
Last word on that: Mancuso and Vonn are both brilliant athletes, among the best in U.S. Olympic history. They represent their country (and their families, friends and sponsors) with passion. They are manifestly different from each other in almost every way and they compete for the same small number of medals, and they're been doing it for more than a decade. They are "teammates'' in a totally individual sport where one athlete's success does not directly affect another's (unlike when
• The mighty Austrian Ski Team -- think Jamaican sprinters -- has had a lousy Olympics, thus far. Heading into the final two events, Austria has just three medals, all of them by women (bronzes by
The Austrians will have four starters in the men's slalom on Saturday. "We have four guys that can win gold,'' said Schroecksnadl, who also made it clear that gold is the only medal that matters at home. In fact, the Austrians have the World Cup slalom leader,
In the 2002 season, when Miller was still primarily a technical event skier (slalom and giant slalom), he won or made the podium in six slaloms. The next year he became a five-event racer, adding downhill and Super-G in pursuit of the World Cup overall title (which he won in 2005 and '08) and his slalom slipped dramatically. In the four years between the Sestriere and Levi podiums, Miller raced 36 slaloms and failed to finish 22 of them.
Yet he retained a passion for the event, and he skied one of the best slaloms of his life to win the gold medal in the combined last Sunday. "Slalom in my mind is the toughest event, and it's at the highest level right now,'' Miller said after that race.
He has quietly worked to get back his slalom mojo and get his equipment dialed in for the event. ``He's put in a lot of work for two years to get his slalom back,'' said U.S. Ski team coach and longtime Miller confidante
That was until last Sunday. Of course, that was one run and the big slalom is two runs. And the field will be flush with slalom specialists who have been waiting more than two weeks for their chance to ski for gold. Still, at this point, you disregard Miller at your own peril.