A clutch performer at crunch time, U.S. Ski Team alpine ski racer Julia Mancuso, 29, of Squaw Valley, Ca. continued to gain momentum toward the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics on Thurs-day in the Italian Alps.
Mancuso placed seventh in an Audi FIS Alpine World Cup super giant slalom race at Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy for her best race result of the 2013-14 World Cup season.
She had placed 29th, 17th and 20th in the first three World Cup SG races this winter. Mancuso started her recent climb leading the Americans with a 13th place in downhill, her sea-son best, at Altenmarkt/Zaucheness, Austria Jan. 11.
A 13-year U.S. Ski Team performer from Reno, Nev., Man-cuso has won more Olympic medals, three, than any other American female alpine racer. The three-time Olympian won the giant slalom gold medal at Turin, Italy in 2006 and earned silver medals in downhill and combined at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, B.C., Canada.
She has seven World Cup wins and 35 podiums including five second places at Cortina—two in downhill, two SG and one in giant slalom. Mancuso is a five-time world medalist.
Winning Thursday’s SG was Elisabeth Goergl, 32, of Austria, who recently captured the Altenmarkt downhill. Starting with bib No. 9, Goergl collected her sixth career World Cup victory and landed her 37th podium.
Goergl finished just .04 seconds ahead of World Cup overall women’s leader Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany, 29. Rounding out the podium was Austria’s Nicole Hosp, 30, 0.34 seconds back. Mancuso was clocked 0.98 seconds off Goergl’s time.
Riesch leads the overall standings 861-754 over Anna Fen-ninger of Austria. American technical star Mikaela Shiffrin, 18, didn’t compete in Thursday’s speed event and still stands in fifth place with 614 points. Mancuso is 26th with 147.
Stacey Cook, 29, of Mammoth Mountain, Ca. added to the U.S. momentum with ninth place Thursday, her best super G finish since 2007.
The women take on downhill Friday, another replacement event, followed by a downhill and super G scheduled for Satur-day and Sunday on the Cortina hill. The U.S. Olympic selection period ends on Sunday and official team nominations will be announced Sunday afternoon.
World Cup women wrap up their pre-Olympic slate Feb. 1-2 with giant slalom and slalom at Kranjska Gora, Slovenia.
Meanwhile, the World Cup men paced by downhill training leader Bode Miller are in Kitzbuehel, Austria for the annual Hahnenkamm weekend that includes slalom Friday, downhill Saturday, and super giant slalom and combined slalom Sunday.