If peaking at the right time is any indication – and it usually is – surging USA speed racers Stacey Cook and Julia Mancuso are making noise with the Sochi Olympics around the corner.
Cook, from Mammoth Lakes and Mancuso from Squaw Valley, Calif. finished the first of two downhills in Cortina, Italy in 5th and 9th place respectively Friday. Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany won the race, with Tina Weirather of Lichtenstein second and Nicole Schmidhofer, third. Cook’s fifth place finish tied injured Lindsey Vonn’s early fifth this season as an American downhill high.
A second downhill is scheduled Saturday, followed by a second super G Sunday.
Cook and Mancuso weren’t the only Americans with solid results Friday. Rookie Jacqueline Wiles from Portland, Ore. was 15th and Laurenne Ross, Mt. Bachelor, Ore., 17th. Mancuso had finished seventh Thursday in the first super G.
"I generally do OK when there are straight shots out of the gate like that," Cook told the Associated Press. "So that was a little confidence booster to kick out of the gate, get on my skis and not have to do too much and then get into it. And then I just tried to not ski a perfect line but ski perfect body position and really attacking. And it seems to have been fast."
It may not be just the ladies leading the charge to Sochi. American star Bode Miller from New Hampshire crushed the field by a solid margin in the final training run before tomorrow’s fabled Hahnenkamm downhill. The closest racer to Miller’s time was Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal who finished 0.96 seconds off the American’s pace while third ranked Hannes Reichelt was 2.35 seconds behind.
Photo: Stacey Cook at 2013 Beaver Creek downhill (Grafton Smith/USST)