Mancuso, Kildow enter world championships on a roll

Updated: February 1, 2007, 4:06 PM ET
Associated Press

ARE, Sweden -- Julia Mancuso wants more medals. Lindsey Kildow wants a big breakthrough.

Both American skiers enter this weekend's world championships in Are, Sweden on a roll.

Mancuso had a record streak of five straight top-three finishes, including two wins, in January. Kildow won the final World Cup race before the worlds, a super-G in San Sicario last Sunday.

Julia Mancuso
AP Photo/Alessandro TrovatiJulia Mancuso enters the world championships with a recent five-race podium streak.

"Julia and Lindsey are confident. They've gotten some rest after this past weekend in San Sicario, and they're ready," U.S. women's head coach Patrick Riml said. "They'll both be challenging in downhill and super-G and super-combi. Julia's the Olympic [giant slalom] champion, and Lindsey will be strong in slalom.

The opening women's race is the super-G on Sunday.

Mancuso won bronze medals in super-G and giant slalom at the 2005 worlds in Bormio, then confirmed her knack for performing well at big competitions at the 2006 Turin Olympics.

"It's always good to have a big event. I really feed off everyone else's excitement, having people around, my family, being with the men's team," Mancuso said. "I feel like everything just gets brought to another level. I'm excited to experience that again."

Although she might skip the slalom, Mancuso could ski all five events.

"No matter whether it's a GS, super-G, downhill or slalom, I just feel really confident that I can accomplish what I set out to do," she said.

Kildow finished fourth twice at the last worlds and did not contend for medals at last year's Olympics after crashing in downhill training.

Lindsey Kildow
AP Photo/Armando TrovatiLindsey Kildow comes into the world championships with a recent super-G win and something to prove.

"I feel I have a lot to prove at big championships," Kildow said. "I have to deal with the pressure. I'm hoping, hoping and hoping that I can get a medal."

The past two seasons, Kildow started strong and then went into a midseason slump. She did the same thing this season but showed signs of a revival last weekend with two top-three finishes.

"I feel like it's coming up right at the right moment," Kildow said. "I'm going into world championships with that positive energy, with two podiums in one weekend. That's a really good feeling. I just have to stick to my program, stay relaxed and have fun."

Kildow also could ski five events but likely will skip the giant slalom.

"I want to get ready for slalom. It's a really good hill for me, pretty flat," Kildow said. "I'm really excited for downhill, super-G and combined. Those are all really good disciplines for me."

Kildow's and Mancuso's top rivals will be local favorite Anja Paerson of Sweden in all events, and Austria's Renate Goetschl in the speed races -- super-G and downhill.

Paerson has struggled to regain her form this season following knee surgery and hasn't won since the downhill at the World Cup finals in Are last season. She skipped the San Sicario races to go home and train for the worlds.

At the last worlds, Paerson won the super-G and giant slalom. Janica Kostelic, who won the other three events, is taking this season off.

Goetschl enters in top form. She won two races and finished second in the other in San Sicario, vaulting her atop the overall World Cup standings.

Unlike Paerson, Goetschl never has been a great performer in big events. She never has won a gold medal at the Olympics and has two golds in six World Championships.

"I don't have big expectations," Goetschl said. "A World Championship or Olympics is always a little bit different -- one race, one day, and you need good conditions. Everything must play together. Hopefully I can win something."

Goetschl missed the finals in Are last season with an injury and does not know the course.

"Our girls have been there. We've trained on that hill," U.S. speed coach Alex Hoedlmoser said.

In the tech events -- slalom and giant slalom -- Austrians Marlies Schild and Nicole Hosp will be among the favorites.

Another American medal threat is Resi Stiegler in slalom and combined.

"Resi is rested after a week at home, and we've got some others coming. I think we're ready," Riml said. "And, even better, so do the girls."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press