Mancuso making run at overall title

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CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, Italy (AP) – Julia Mancuso’s two-race winning streak is over.

Her run of top-three finishes is still alive, though, and so is her quest to become the first American woman to win the World Cup overall title in 24 years.

Mancuso placed second behind Renate Goetschl in a downhill Saturday for her fourth straight finish among the top three. She won a super-giant slalom here on Friday. Last weekend in Altenmarkt, Austria, she won a super-combi a day after finishing third in a downhill.

World Cup overall leader Marlies Schild has 881 points, fellow Austrian Nicole Hosp is second with 828 and Mancuso now has 714. No American woman has won the overall title since Tamara McKinney in 1983.

“It’s kind of like sky miles, when you’re flying – collecting points for free trips,” Mancuso said. “I just get excited about collecting the points. I don’t really think about the overall or beating anyone else. It’s cool just to be adding them up and getting more.”

Mancuso lost a bet with a team trainer and was forced to wear a traditional Austrian folk dress – called a Dirndl – on the victory podium Friday night.

“She has to have fun, and when that comes, as it has this last month, she could be on the podium every race,” said U.S. speed coach Alex Hoedlmoser.

Goetschl skied the 1.6-mile Olympia delle Tofane course in 1 minute, 31.14 seconds, 0.17 seconds faster than Mancuso. Marie Marchand-Arvier of France finished a career-best third, 0.60 seconds behind. Two-time World Cup overall champion Anja Paerson of Sweden was fifth.

Goetschl now has five downhill and five super-G victories for a record 10 wins at Cortina. The closest any other skier has come for wins at one resort is Ingemar Stenmark’s eight at Madonna Di Campiglio.

“I like everything here – the hill is interesting, start to finish, and the atmosphere is really special,” Goetschl said. “Everyone was expecting me to win a 10th time. It was a lot of pressure for me. “This was good preparation for the world championships.”

I’m elated I could handle it like this.”

The worlds will be held in Are, Sweden, on Feb. 3-18.

Goetschl leads the downhill standings with 425 points, followed by Mancuso with 346 and American Lindsey Kildow with 340.

Kildow fell twice during her run, but was not seriously injured.

“My butt’s going to be sore, that’s all,” she said. “I was just trying to turn the ski too aggressively and I lost control.”

Kildow, who also crashed in the previous downhill in Altenmarkt, will skip Sunday’s giant slalom here.

“She’s all right, it’s nothing serious. She just feels beat up,” said U.S. Ski Team spokesman Marc Habermann. “And giant slalom is her worst discipline.”

Schild and Hosp did not enter Saturday’s downhill. They specialize in the technical events and will be favored in Sunday’s giant slalom.

Mancuso won the giant slalom at last year’s Turin Olympics, and finished fifth in the GS here a year ago.

“I really love this hill for GS, it’s rolling and really difficult,” she said, looking ahead to Sunday.

AP-ES-01-20-07 1231EST

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