Three-time Olympic medalist Julia Mancuso, whose best finish this season is 12th, clocked the fastest training run ahead of four straight days of speed races in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, on Wednesday.
Super-G races Thursday and Sunday and downhills Friday and Saturday will be key in determining Mancuso’s medal chances in Sochi. With Lindsey Vonn out, she is the face of the U.S. women’s speed team.
“Definitely my confidence is getting better and better,” Mancuso said, according to The Associated Press. “Even though we’ve had canceled races I’ve been spending a lot of times on my boots [free] skiing. That’s the most important thing for me — to feel really comfortable and confident on my equipment. … I’ve put in the hours I needed.”
The hope from Mancuso’s struggles this season is that she is seen as a big-event skier, to be able to turn it on at the Olympics or World Championships.
She had never won a World Cup race before taking the 2006 Olympic giant slalom title. In 2010, she was coming off her worst World Cup season in four years and won two silver medals at the Vancouver Olympics.
It was about this time four years ago that Mancuso began to flip the switch. She was a season’s best eighth in a downhill in Cortina on Jan. 23, 2010, and then third in the super-G portion of a super combined one week later.
“I’m sure if I’m skiing well then the results will come,” Mancuso said, according to the AP. “And it doesn’t even matter what place I end up in the races going into it. Even today having a really good training run that’s a really good confidence (booster) for me.”