Julia Mancuso builds strong lead heading into super-combined slalom

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U.S. skier Julia Mancuso came into the downhill portion of the women’s super-combined competition as a wild card due to a lack of recent success. She ended up wildly successful.

Mancuso, 29, gave herself a chance to win her fourth Olympic medal with a strong run that gives her a .47 hundredths of a second lead heading into the slalom portion of the combined. NBC’s Alan Abrahamson provides a little more context:

Switzerland’s Lara Gut came in second and  Slovenia’s Tina Maze is .86 back at third. Austria’s Anna Fenninger is fourth (.99 behind). and defending Olympic champion Maria Hoefl-Riesch came in fifth, trailing by 1.04 seconds.

It’s by no means set in stone that the three-time Olympic medal winner will stand on the podium, as she hasn’t finished a slalom (the second of two disciplines in the super-combined) in some time. She told the Denver Post that she’s confident she can make it happen, though.

“I definitely think I can have a good slalom run,” Mancuso said. “It’s going to be a little more difficult with the slalom being injected (with water to form a frozen surface). That definitely favors towards the girls who ski slalom all season long. But at the same time, with the combined, unless you’re strictly a slalom skier it sort of puts more pressure on those girls that ski both well. There’s a lot more room for other skiers to have the race of their life.”

Despite her strong start, she’ll have plenty of competition, including favorite Hoefl-Riesch.

The slalom portion kicks in at 6 a.m. ET, which you can view here. Clearly the performers are pumped up: