Originally created 02/04/03

U.S. women win silver, bronze in Super G



ST. MORITZ, Switzerland -- Suddenly, the prediction of a solitary medal seems tame. The U.S. women have won two already at the world championships, and sense more on the way.

"It's amazing," Kirsten Clark said. "We're definitely off to a great start."

Clark won the silver medal Monday in the super giant slalom on the second day of the worlds, finishing 0.02 seconds behind Michaela Dorfmeister of Austria. Clark's teammate, Jonna Mendes, won the bronze, 0.15 seconds behind Dorfmeister.

Dorfmeister was timed in 1 minute, 27.48 seconds on the Engiadina course for her second world title. She won the downhill two years ago.

Breaking into tears, she kissed the snow, her skis and her fist and punched the air.

"Luck was on my side today," Dorfmeister said. "I am a bit stunned. I was very emotional today."

The performance by the U.S. women was all the more surprising considering they had not had a top-three result in the Super G this season on the World Cup circuit.

"I can't say it was expected. It's awesome to stand on the podium," said Clark, of Raymond, Maine. "I definitely think there are more podiums on the women's side."

The women's success comes a day after American Bode Miller shared the silver in a Super G.

Apart from the United States and Austria, no other nation has won a medal at the worlds. Austria has two gold and one silver, the Americans two silver and one bronze.

Entering the championships, U.S. Alpine director Jesse Hunt said the team was aiming for three medals in the men's events and one in the women's.

"Bode came back to our hotel kind of showing off his medal," said Clark, grinning. "It definitely gave us momentum to see Bode do so well. It generated a lot of energy and enthusiasm."

In other U.S. results, Caroline Lalive went off course and failed to finish a race for the ninth straight time at the Olympics or worlds, and Julia Mancuso came in 21st.

Mendes said the women on the team now believe they're capable of top-three finishes.

"I think a couple more medals isn't out of reach," said Mendes, of Heavenly, Calif. "We're shooting for more."

Before Monday, Clark's best Super G results this season were fourth-place finishes in Aspen, Colo., and Lake Louise, Alberta. Mendes was eighth in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy.

At the Salt Lake City Olympics last winter, the United States won just two silvers, with Miller placing second in the combined and giant slalom.

At the last worlds in St. Anton, Americans won just one medal, a Super G gold by Daron Rahlves, and failed to medal at the 1999 worlds at Vail, Colo.

"Salt Lake City was a good experience for us," U.S. women's speed coach Jim Tracy said. "We didn't perform the way we should have."

With Canadians Genevieve Simard and Melanie Turgeon fourth and sixth Monday, North Americans held four of the top six spots. Austria's Alexandra Meissnitzer was fifth.

Dorfmeister captured the Super G bronze medal at the 1999 worlds in Vail. The Austrian had not won another Super G this season, finishing third in Val d'Isere, France, at the beginning of December.

She was a Super G silver medalist at the 1998 Nagano Olympics and the winner of the overall World Cup title last season.

"My father told me after Nagano that everything comes back at some time," she said. "And I thought about it today."

France's Carole Montillet, the Olympic downhill champion, finished 14th. She had been hoping to succeed late teammate Regine Cavagnoud, who was killed in a crash during practice in October 2001.

Olympic champion Daniela Ceccarelli of Italy failed to finish, sliding off the course.