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Olympic skiers hit slopes for women's super combined medals

Published On: Feb 10 2014 06:49:39 AM CST
Updated On: Feb 10 2014 07:08:09 AM CST
Julia Mancuso, Sochi super combined

Stefano Rellandini/Reuters

American Julia Mancuso won the first medal in alpine skiing for the U.S. at the Sochi Winter Olympics, taking bronze in the super combined.

Germany's Maria Hoefl-Riesch matched her gold from 2010 to repeat as champion and Austria's Nicole Hosp won silver.

The event combines skiers' times from one downhill run and one slalom run.

Mancuso won the downhill portion with a time of 1 minute, 42.68 seconds, putting her 0.86 seconds ahead of the field, but finished 13th in the slalom portion with a time of 52.47.

Mancuso's bronze gives her the fourth medal of her Olympic career. The 29-year-old Squaw Valley, Calif., native won giant slalom gold in Turin, Italy, in 2006 and silver medals in both the super combined and downhill at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

No other female American alpine skier has won more than two Olympic medals.

Mancuso's performance also helps fill a void created for U.S. alpine skiing fans when gold medal favorite Lindsey Vonn pulled out of the Sochi Games due to a knee injury.

Vonn originally tore her knee ligaments at the world championships nearly a year ago. The four-time World Cup overall champion underwent reconstructive surgery but aggravated the problem in a crash during training in November.

Four years ago, Mancuso finished second in the Olympics downhill behind Vonn at Whistler. Last March, she took third place at the world championships in the Super-G race where Vonn earlier crashed and hurt her knee.

After a difficult start to the 2013-14 World Cup season, Mancuso took a break from the slopes. After returning in mid-January, she scored her first three top-10 finishes of the season (two in the downhill and one in the Super-G), securing her spot for her fourth Olympic Games.

Of the other American skiers in the field, Laurenne Ross and Stacey Cook were both eliminated after failing to complete the downhill course. Fellow American Leanne Smith stood in 20th place after the downhill, but was disqualified for missing a gate in the slalom.

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