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U.S. has eye on ski medals



Published: Sat, January 29, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The women's team has high hopes for an Alpine Skiing World Championship.

BORMIO, Italy (AP) -- The U.S. women's team set its goal of winning four medals at the Alpine Skiing World Championships before the season began.

With Lindsey Kildow surging and several teammates also in the running, that number seems attainable.

"I think the course suits everybody well on our team," coach Patrick Riml said.

The women's course in Santa Caterina Valfurva held four World Cup races earlier this month. Kildow finished second and fourth in two downhills, veteran Kristina Koznick was second in a slalom and Julia Mancuso was fourth in a giant slalom for her best World Cup result.

Mountain-high goals

Kildow, a top medal contender in the super giant slalom, downhill and combined, has higher goals this time.

"Obviously at the world championships you want to be world champion," she said. "But world championships are different than World Cup and for me, this is my first time, so I'm going to try not to be disappointed with whatever result I get."

While her one victory of the season came in the downhill and her six podiums are evenly split between downhill and super-G, Kildow is most excited about the super-G that opens the worlds for the women Sunday.

"I just have a good feeling about it," she said. "I think I'm skiing well in both events. I think it's just going to be a matter of how few mistakes I make. That's what has been happening in every race the last couple of weeks, small mistakes. I'm skiing really well, just one little mistake is killing me.

"So, I'm hoping super-G. But if one doesn't go well, I always have the other one."

Then there's the combined, which adds the times from one downhill run and two slalom legs held in one day.

Kildow finished 11th in a slalom last Sunday, her best result in the event.

"That was amazing for me. I've been skiing so well, and if I have a good run in downhill, who knows, I could do really well," she said

"But there are a lot of big-game contenders in the combined. It's not a kiddie event," said the 20-year-old Kildow, who will have to contend with favorites Janica Kostelic and Anja Paerson, considered the top two skiers on the circuit.

Choices

For Mancuso, giant slalom is her best bet.

With top 10 results in all four events this season, the toughest decision for the California native was which races to enter here. She decided on racing everything but downhill to allow more time for giant slalom training.

Mancuso finished fourth in the giant slalom at Santa Caterina on Jan. 8 after coming into the race without any training.

"My [previous] race was in St. Moritz, and I won the second run by quite a bit," she said of her sixth-place finish at the Swiss resort on Dec. 22. "I know if I go to train a little more and get back on my skis and confident, really anything is possible."

The Americans' biggest medal contender in the gate disciplines is Koznick in slalom.

Koznick took second in a slalom at Santa Caterina on Jan. 9, one of her three podiums this season. Resi Stiegler stood fifth after the first run in that race but had a problem with her goggles in the second and ended up 17th.

At 19, Stiegler is the youngest American -- man or woman -- at the worlds. Her father, Pepi Stiegler, won the gold medal for Austria in slalom at the 1960 Olympics in Squaw Valley, California.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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