Julia Mancuso sets pace in super combined downhill
KRASNAYA POLYANA - Serial Olympic Winter Games specialist Julia MANCUSO (USA) leads after the downhill in the ladies super combined.
The 2010 Olympic super combined silver medallist pushed long-time leader Lara GUT (SUI) into second after an aggressive run on the icy downhill course. All-round expert Tina MAZE (SLO) continued her recent return to form by finishing third quickest.
MANCUSO was up on speed specialist GUT from the first split, increasing her advantage to 0.47 seconds in the final section.
The USA skier has perfected the art of peaking for major championships. In her 14-year career, the 29- year-old has won just seven world cup races, yet has eight Olympic and world championship medals.
Both MANCUSO (USA) and GUT (SUI), who has enjoyed a stellar season in the speed events, winning three world cup super G races and one downhill, knew they needed a big advantage to fend off the slalom specialists on Monday afternoon.
"I was working on the speed in the start gate, staying focused on the aerodynamics. The snow was softer today, it's easier to drive out of the turn on to the skis. I feel like I have a chance to medal," said MANCUSO.
MAZE, who in her super season in 2012/13 won the world cup super combined title, will fancy her chances. Maria HOEFL_RIESCH, the 2010 super combined gold medallist and pre-race favourite recovered from an early mistake to be fifth.
Anna FENNINGER (AUT) and Nicole HOSP (AUT) are threatening to add to Austria's alpine joy, having finished fourth and eighth respectively.