VAL D’ISERE, France (AP) – Lindsey Kildow was surprised when she looked at the race clock after crossing the finish line.

“Oh my God!” she shouted after realizing her time of 1 minute, 38.06 seconds was 1.24 seconds faster than American teammate Julia Mancuso.

“I don’t know if it can get any better,” Kildow said Wednesday, one day after finishing third in another downhill – won by Mancuso.

Anja Paerson of Sweden was third in 1:39.50, while Renate Goetschl of Austria was fourth, 1.51 seconds slower than Kildow. Goetschl leads the overall World Cup standings with 441 points, followed by teammate Nicole Hosp with 436 and Kildow with 435.

Kildow also won a downhill at Val d’Isere last year, where Caroline Lalive was second. But she struggled Monday while training on the technical 1.55-mile Oreiller-Killy course.

“Over the past couple of years we have been building steam and building confidence,” Kildow said. “I think it’s just going to keep building. It’s just all a mental game.”

In the downhill standings, Kildow leads with 340 points. Goetschl is second with 225 and Mancuso is third with 206.

“I feel really good in speed. I feel my energy is coming back after my illness,” said Kildow, who won a race in Lake Louise, Alberta, and also earned a second-place finish before missing two races last weekend with a stomach problem.

Kildow can now close in on the overall leaders in Thursday’s slalom, though it’s not her specialty.

“I definitely can do it,” Kildow said. “I’ve been really close before. I’m going for a high spot.”

Kildow also said there was a chance she could even compete for the overall title.

“I’m not going to say it’s not possible because I really aspire to that,” Kildow said. “I’m skiing well in giant slalom but I haven’t shown it yet, and I need to get top five’s in slalom.”

Over the past six days, American skiers have nine top-three finishes.

Bode Miller started the run with a super-G win at Val Gardena, Italy, on Friday. He added another super-G win Wednesday at Hinterstoder, Austria.

“We can keep on rolling, all it takes is a little momentum,” Mancuso said. “It’s exciting. I’m stoked for everyone.”

Mancuso and Paerson both experienced problems Wednesday. “I didn’t ski as well as yesterday,” Mancuso said. “I got bumped around a lot and the light was flat. But I still nailed a lot of sections and it feels really sweet to be in second.” Paerson picked up valuable points heading into the slalom, where she is expected to challenge Hosp and slalom leader Marlies Schild.

“It was tougher to ski today,” Paerson said. “It was a little darker today. I had a huge mistake at the bottom. I took a huge hit on the outside ski and had to go on my inside ski the whole way. I’m lucky I’m standing.”

Mancuso also jumped up a place in the overall standings – to seventh with 279.

“I’m just going for consistency,” said Mancuso, who will skip Thursday’s slalom. “I’ve had a lot of ups and downs the past two seasons, so I’m not giving myself any expectations for the overall.”

AP-ES-12-20-06 1116EST

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.