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AP Sports

January 22, 2014

Mancuso tops Cortina downhill training, eyes Sochi

CORTINA D'AMPEZZO, Italy (AP) — Showing signs of a big jump in form just in time for the Sochi Olympics, American skier Julia Mancuso led downhill training Wednesday ahead of four days of World Cup racing.

Mancuso, whose best finish this season in any event was 12th, clocked 1 minute, 38.87 seconds down the sunny Olympia delle Tofane course.

Johanna Schnarf of Italy was second, 0.06 seconds behind, and overall leader Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany was third, 0.29 behind.

"I felt like I had a good run," Mancuso said. "It wasn't perfect everywhere, but I was really going for it."

Mancuso has always saved her best skiing for the Olympics. She won gold in giant slalom at the 2006 Turin Games and took silver in downhill and super-combined at the 2010 Vancouver Games.

"Definitely my confidence is getting better and better," she said.

The Cortina schedule calls for super-G races on Thursday and Sunday and downhill races Friday and Saturday.

Two of the races were originally scheduled for Cortina last weekend but got wiped out by heavy snowfall. The other races were moved from Garmisch-Partenkirchen, due to a lack of snow in the German resort.

Apart from World Cup finals, skiers rarely face four races in four days. Even at the Olympics and world championships, there are days off between races.

"That's not a problem for me since I'm doing all events. I'm used skiing every day," Hoefl-Riesch said. "Of course four days in a row is a tough schedule. But it shouldn't be a problem."

However, there is a possibility of more bad weather in the coming days.

"I hope that there's not so much snow coming again, because the slope is really good right now. It's perfect," Hoefl-Riesch said. "It would be great to have nice and fair races."

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