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For the week of February 13 - 19, 2002


French skier wins downhill; Picabo 16th

Picabo Street’s storied alpine ski racing career may have come to a disappointing end Tuesday with a 16th-place finish in the Winter Olympic downhill on Snowbasin’s Wildflower ski run.

Triumph native Street, 30, finished 1.61 seconds behind the upset winner, France's Carole Montillet. The fact that Montillet, 28, had never won a World Cup downhill before made her victory one of the shocks of the 2002 Olympics.

But Montillet's triumph was salve for a French squad that has been in mourning since the October death of team leader Regine Cavagnoud, 31, killed in a training accident.

Montillet (1:39.56) won the gold over two favored 26-year-old veterans, silver medalist Isolde Kostner of Italy (1:40.01) and Austria’s Renate Goetschl (1:40.39). Kostner was last year’s World Cup downhill champion, and 1997 and 1999 World Cup downhill winner Goetschl had won the last two DHs before the Olympics.

Top American in 11th place was Jonna Mendes of Heavenly, Calif. (1:40.97) followed in 12th by Kirsten Clark of Raymond, Me. (1:41.03) and Street in 16th (1:41.17)

Street, the last American woman to medal in downhill (silver in 1994), had been due to start in the second position Monday. She won the first training run Saturday and was seventh in training Sunday.

When Monday’s Olympic downhill was canceled by high winds, the starting numbers were redrawn, Street going to 26th. Then Tuesday’s start of the race was delayed more than two hours by gusting winds.

Picabo started well, but didn’t ski a clean run.

Trying to become the first American woman to win three Olympic skiing medals, Street had the best time at the top of the mountain but lost speed in the middle of the course as she fought to control her skis.

She posted the best results at the first two timing spots and quickly got into the tight tuck position that allows her to glide so quickly down hills.

But she flew a bit high at the first of the course's jumps and then struggled to maintain her balance as she left a trail of snow in her wake. She also was too high off the second jump, losing crucial time.

Instead, the spotlight focused on Montillet, whose only World Cup victory came Feb. 16, 2001, in super giant slalom at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. She had placed 10th in the 2001 world championship DH in Austria.


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