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Vonn crashes, Mancuso struggles in Olympic giant slalom


WHISTLER, British Columbia ( -- It was a rough morning for American skiing.

Lindsey Vonn crashed in her opening run of the Olympic Giant slalom event at Whistler Creekside, losing control around a right turn near the middle of the course, and landing hard on her left hip and finger. She had posted a split time of 0.35 after the third timing position, the best of all the skiers at that point. But the double Olympic medalist will not reach the podium today.

As Vonn was crashing, Julia Mancuso of the U.S. was the next skier on course and had to pull up midway through her run because Vonn was being tended to by race officials. Mancuso ended up at the bottom of the hill and had to return to the top of the course for a later start. Race officials slotted her into the 31st position.

At that point, the course had deteriorated significantly and Mancuso finished with a time of 1:16.42, 1.30 behind Elisabeth Goergl of Austria who led in 1 minute, 15.12 seconds. Taina Barioz of France was 0.02 behind. Kathrin Zettel of Austria was third, 0.16 back. "It's going to be an exciting race," said Goregl after her run.

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Vonn, starting in the 17th position, said she thought she was skiing great and making good turns. She crashed approximately 50 seconds into her course. She eventually got up and skied to the finish. The giant slalom is usually Vonn's worst discipline and she has had trouble finishing the event this year.

Vonn had ice on her right pinky finger after the race and said she was going to shortly undergo an X-ray to surmise the damage. She is scheduled to ski in the slalom on Friday. Mancuso previously said she would bypass that event.

"The course is breaking up at the bottom," Vonn said. "I got a little bit too inside and lost my outside ski. My knee came up and hit my chin. I got all tangled up and hit the fence. I hurt my finger (pinkie) and need to get it X-rayed. ... I feel terrible for Julia. That's obviously not what I wanted to happen. I wanted to get down and ski well and I wanted her to get down ski well."

Mancuso is the defending champion in the event, but it will take an extraordinary performance on the second run this afternoon for her to reach the podium. At the Turin Olympics in 2006, Mancuso, then 21, rescued the U.S. women's ski team from a complete shutout, winning a gold medal in the giant slalom with a second run through heavy snowfall.