Expectations grew for American alpine skier Julia Mancuso after she nabbed a medal early in the 2014 Winter Olympics, but she was unable to add to that total in Saturday's super-G event, finishing eighth.
Mancuso raised eyebrows by taking bronze in the super combined, so making the podium in the super-G suddenly became a goal that was within reach. Mancuso has excelled in speed events over the course of her career, but her super-G results have been inconsistent this season, and that didn't translate to a podium finish.
NBC's Dan Hicks provides the medal winners for the event:
As Yahoo!'s Charles Robinson indicates, Mancuso's hopes of medaling were dashed by an impressive showing by Anna Fenninger:
Since Mancuso hadn't finished better than seventh in the super-G on the World Cup circuit this season, it was assumed that she would have to outperform her normal run significantly in order to take another medal. Mancuso has always been one to rise to the occasion on the Olympic stage, but it wasn't to be in this particular event.
Following her dominance in the downhill portion of the super combined, Mancuso was tabbed as the favorite in the downhill event itself. Unfortunately, things didn't carry over, and Mancuso fell short of her fifth career Olympic medal.
After winning bronze in the super combined, though, fellow American skier Bode Miller tweeted about Mancuso getting the job done when it matters most:
Mancuso's Olympic credentials can't be questioned at this point; however, her poorer-than-expected showing in the downhill may have carried over to the super-G.
Mancuso has never captured an Olympic super-G medal, but she has definitely improved in that event over the years. She won bronze in the event at the 2013 World Championships, and she seemed to be rounding into form ahead of the 2014 Winter Games.
The American veteran finished seventh in the super-G at an event in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy just prior to making the trip to Sochi. According to Elliott Almond of the San Jose Mercury News, that showing boosted Mancuso's confidence significantly.
"Things are going in the right direction and I know I have a lot more in me," Mancuso said. "Training has been going really well and racing is getting better, so I'm getting there just in time for the Olympics."
Unfortunately, Mancuso's progress wasn't quite enough to get into medal position in the super-G.
Mancuso had already stamped her place in American Olympic history prior to the super-G by becoming just the third Team USA Alpine skiing athlete to capture at least one medal in three different Olympic Games. Even so, reaching the podium is always one of Mancuso's main priorities in every race.
Now that the super-G is in the rear-view mirror, the focus shifts to how many more medals Mancuso can potentially win in Sochi. The giant slalom will take place on Tuesday, and although Mancuso hasn't finished better than 12th in that event in 2013-14 World Cup competition so far, she did win gold in the giant slalom at the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy.
It is entirely possible that the giant slalom will be her final competition of the Olympics, but there is a slalom event on Feb. 21. Mancuso hadn't run a slalom race all season prior to that part of the super combined, and even though she didn't look entirely comfortable, she performed well enough to hang on to bronze.
According to David Leon Moore of USA Today, Mancuso essentially entered that run cold having barely prepared for it.
"I have less than 10 days of slalom training this year," Mancuso said. "But sometimes that's better. Just go for it. I grew up skiing slalom, so I knew I can do it. So that's pretty much what I did, just believe it was still there."
As improbable as it might seem, it wouldn't be shocking to see Mancuso throw her name into the hat for the slalom.
Missing out on medals in the past two events might have Mancuso's wheels churning in terms of maximizing her chances of winning a second one, but she may just be happy to take her haul back to Squaw Valley, Calif. and celebrate.
Even if Mancuso finishes these Games with just one medal to her credit, most will still consider it to be a success based on her World Cup results heading in.
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