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Women’s downhill course altered; Mancuso third-fastest

Julia Mancuso (Reuters.)

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia – Following a harrowing beginning to Thursday’s first training session, officials altered the women’s Olympic downhill course by shaving down the final jump, causing a nearly two-hour delay in training but easing the minds of competitors.

“You’re going straight while the ground’s dropping away from you,” said American Laurenne Ross, one of only a half-dozen racers to complete the original course before officials stopped the session. “So it was just really high; I was really high off the ground. It made it tough.

“I think it’s difficult to make those next couple gates if the jump remains the same, but it seems as if they’re shaving it down now for safety, and I think that’s probably a smart decision.”

American Julia Mancuso waited out the delay and posted the third-fastest time over the 1.69-mile course, trailing only Austria’s Anna Fenninger and Switzerland’s Fraenzi Aufdenblatten. Fellow American Stacey Cook was ninth-fastest.

Mancuso, a three-time Olympic medalist, won silver in the downhill four years ago in Vancouver. She will ski in Monday’s super-combined – the first women’s event of the Olympics, combining one downhill run with a slalom run – as well as in downhill, super-G and giant slalom.

“I’ve definitely come a long way since the beginning of the year with my confidence,” Mancuso said.