Julia Mancuso rips down the first run GS course into the resort of Aspen. (Jon Margolis)
ASPEN, CO (Nov. 26) - Olympic champion Julia Mancuso (Squaw Valley, CO) broke a seven-year jinx, taking the number three podium spot with two brilliant GS runs at the Nature Valley Aspen Winternational. Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO) battled back from a tough first run (21st) to finish 12th. It was the first U.S. podium in Aspen since Kristina Koznick was third in a slalom in November, 2004 and the first U.S. women's GS podium since Tamara McKinney's win in 1981. Defending World Cup GS champ Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany survived a near crash on the first run to comeback for the win. Action continues with a slalom Sunday. The Nature Valley Aspen Winternational will air on NBC at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, Nov. 27.
Julia Mancuso's third in Aspen was her first GS podium since December, 2007 in Lienz, Austria.
Kristina Koznick was the last American to podium in Aspen, finishing third in slalom in November, 2004.
Squaw Valley's Tamara McKinney (who was on hand in Aspen) was the only other American woman to podium in GS in Aspen, winning in March, 1981.
Lindsey Vonn struggled in the first run, finishing 21st; her second run was very strong to bring her up to 12th
Viktoria Rebensburg moved into the Audi FIS World Cup lead with the win, while Vonn dropped to third. Mancuso is fifth.
With Mancuso's third in Aspen and Vonn's win in Soelden, the U.S. women have been on both Audi FIS World Cup GS podiums.
Fun Fact: Julia Mancuso's Spyder racing suit for Aspen featured a trail map of her home mountain of Squaw Valley.
Julia Mancuso "I've been wanting to ski really fast in GS and I had a couple of unlucky second runs last year so this is just a great way to start. I know now that with any start position, I can find my way onto the podium.
"I think every time I've raced here I've been in the top 10 or have been really close to the top 10. I've always loved this hill because it's always moving, it's really steep and it's a lot of fun."
"Aspen Ski Club and this whole town has always been so supportive of ski racing. We had a poster signing last night and there were so many kids that came out and then I saw all them up on the hill today. It's just really great as a whole to see how supportive of ski racing that Aspen is as a community."
"There's so many things about Aspen that makes it a difficult race. Soelden was over a month ago, our families are here and you always want to ski well for the crowd and it's a super tough hill. This really feels like the first race of the year and there's a certain amount of nerves that comes with that."
"It's so special to get back on the podium here in Aspen, my family is here, my Squaw Valley Fan Club is here and my Spyder speed suit from today has the Squaw Valley map on it. Plus, my friend Tamara McKinney, who was the last U.S. woman to take a GS podium here was in the crowd. It's just cool to celebrate with my family and friends."
Lindsey Vonn "With the terrain and the flat light, I just kept making mistakes the second run, but it wasn't quite enough. The just wasn't really myself in the first run, I made some improvements in the second - it's definitely not what I was hoping for here in Aspen."
"The crowd was great, they're always so supportive here in Aspen. I'm really excited that Julia was able to put the U.S. back on the podium in our home race."
OFFICIAL RESULTS Nature Valley Aspen Winternational Audi FIS Alpine World Cup Aspen, CO – Nov. 26, 2011
Women's Giant Slalom 1. Viktoria Rebensburg, Germany, 2:11.25 2. Elisabeth Goergl, Austria, 2:11.58 3. Julia Mancuso, Squaw Valley, CA, 2:11.69 - 12. Lindsey Vonn, Vail, CO, 2:12.99 - Did not finish first run: Sarah Schleper, Vail, CO - Did not qualify: Resi Stiegler, Jackson Hole, WY; Kiley Staples, Park City, UT; Mikaela Shiffrin, Eagle-Vail, CO