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Super effort on slop earns Mancuso super-G title

Julia Mancuso said she feels a real connection with her skis. Julia Mancuso said she feels a real connection with her skis. (AGENCE ZOOM/GETTY IMAGES)

CORTINA D'AMPEZZO, Italy -- Julia Mancuso finally is getting the chance to follow up on her Olympic giant slalom title.

Soon after winning gold in Turin last February, Mancuso had right hip surgery and couldn't walk for a month. Recovery slowed the American at the beginning of this World Cup season.

But now she's the hottest skier on the women's circuit, maintaining her focus through a 3 1/2-hour rain delay yesterday to win a super-giant slalom -- her second straight World Cup victory. She won a super-combi last Sunday in Altenmarkt, Austria.

"The Olympics were a steppingstone for me. I accomplished one of my childhood dreams and now on the World Cup, I'm taking it one day at a time, one race at a time," said Mancuso, who moved into third place in the overall World Cup standings.

Mancuso is one of the few skiers who competes in all five World Cup events, and her three wins this season have come in three disciplines -- downhill, combined, and now super-G.

"It's definitely going across the board with my skiing," she said. "For me, it's not really about the discipline. I just feel such a connection with my skis."

That connection was especially important yesterday. The course was soft following several hours of rain, and many skiers struggled.

In fading light, Mancuso sped down the Olympia delle Tofane course in 1 minute 16.25 seconds.

Nicole Hosp of Austria was second, 0.33 seconds behind, and Renate Goetschl was third, 0.34 back. Mancuso's US teammate, Lindsey Kildow, tied for fourth with Andrea Fischbacher of Austria, 0.39 behind.

Kildow thought the race should have been canceled. Race-time temperature was 45 degrees. "It was so slushy that it was a joke. You don't have races in these conditions, and they shouldn't have had the race," Kildow said.