Vonn falls; Mancuso rises to second silver Lysacek tops Plushenko for gold
WHISTLER, British Columbia — Lindsey Vonn stepped gingerly in her brown hiking boots, a grimace betraying the pain in her bruised right shin and the sting of a fall that prevented her from completing yesterday's super-combined race at the Olympics.
As Vonn moved from the finish area toward a throng of autograph-seekers, a chant rang out from fans a few yards away: "Ju-li-a! Ju-li-a! Ju-li-a!"
The cheers were for Vonn's teammate, Julia Mancuso, who was making her way over after finishing second to Germany's Maria Riesch in the super-combined to earn her second silver in two days. Yes, make room for another U.S. skiing sensation at these Winter Games.
"I didn't expect that," Mancuso said. "Such a great feeling of accomplishment and really just believing in everything I was doing."
It's the nearly forgotten Mancuso, not the much-hyped Vonn, who owns two 2010 medals. It's the recently mediocre Mancuso, not the World Cup-dominating Vonn, who now is tied with Bode Miller for most career Olympic Alpine medals by a U.S. skier, with three.
Mancuso gave the United States its first medal in women's Olympic combined or super-combined since 1948. And her best event is yet to come — next Wednesday's giant slalom, the race the 25-year-old from Squaw Valley, Calif., won at the 2006 Turin Games.
Hip surgery after those Olympics led to back problems that made her something of an afterthought. Meanwhile, over the past two World Cup seasons, Vonn has claimed 18 race victories en route to two overall titles. Mancuso hasn't won any World Cup race since March 2007.
But, as she put it, "I just came to these Olympics trying to put the past behind me and rip it up."
A common skiing slip-up derailed Vonn's bid for a second gold in as many days. She simply failed to get her right ski around a gate during the slalom leg after entering that portion of the super-combined in first place. Vonn was 0.33 seconds ahead of Riesch and 0.80 ahead of Mancuso in the morning's downhill leg.
"I hooked a tip, and that happens in ski racing all the time," Vonn said. "I just wish it wasn't at the Olympic Games."
She's planned all along to participate in all five Alpine events, but there's no guarantee her leg will allow that.