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Smith solid in first two Olympic races


February 22, 2010
VANCOUVER, B.C. — Leanne Smith's first two Olympic competitions are in the bag and though the Kennett graduate didn't earn a medal for her work (or even any air time from NBC), she still came away with some solid results in her first trip to the Olympics.

Smith had a chance to compete in the downhill dashed by Mother Nature, as she was unable to get a training run in and lost her starting spot to teammate Alice McKennis.

However, Smith did have a starting spot in the super-combined, which took place on Thursday, Feb. 18. The event was originally scheduled to be the first women's alpine event of the games, but weather postponed its original Sunday start to Thursday.

The super-combined features one run of downhill and one run of slalom and the best combined time takes home the gold medal.

The downhill portion was run in the morning and the slalom portion followed just after noon Pacific time.

Julia Mancuso, following up her medal performance in the downhill, was the first United States skier out of the gate with bib number three, and she set the pace for the downhill portion with a time of 1:24.96.

Mancuso held the lead until her teammate, downhill gold medalist Lindsey Vonn, the 18th skier out of the gate, set a new standard of 1:24.16 to take over first place.

Germany's Maria Riesch, Vonn's chief competitor in World Cup action, was one bib behind Vonn and slipped in between the two United States skiers with a run of 1:24.49.

The next US skier was Kaylin Richardson, who finished in 1:27.64 and put herself 20th as the 25th skier out of the gate.

Smith was the final US skier, skiing with bib 28. She raced to a time of 1:27.27, which placed her 20th overall, 3.11 seconds behind Vonn's pace.

When all the skiers had completed their runs, Vonn still had the lead, with Riesch second and Mancuso in third. Smith was 21st overall and Richardson was 23rd.

The ladies returned to the slope for the slalom and skied in reverse order from their downhill portion finish.

This sent Richardson out as the first American and she finished in 45.76 for a combined total of 2:13.40.

The ninth skier out of the gate, Sarka Zahrobska of the Czech Republic, a slalom expert, set the pace of 2:11.02 with her solid slalom run.

Smith skied 10th in the slalom and laid down a time of 46.70, which gave her a combined time of 2:13.97. This placed her fifth out of the skiers that had competed, with the world's best still to come.

The 20th skier, Kathrin Zettel of Austria, finally pushed Zahrobska off the top spot on the podium with a run of 44.49 for a combined time of 2:10.50.

However, Anja Paerson of Sweden, seventh after the downhill, skied to a 44.62 in the slalom and a combined time of 2:10.19 for first place.

Mancuso then took over first place with a run of 45.12 and a combined time of 2:10.08.

Riesch took over the lead with a slalom run of 44.65 and a combined time of 2:09.14, leaving Vonn as the final skier with hopes of eclipsing the German on the podium.

However, Vonn hooked a tip on a slalom gate and fell, leaving the gold for Riesch, the silver for Mancuso and the bronze for Paerson.

When all was said and done, Smith skied to a 21st place finish in her Olympic debut. Richardson was 17th.

Super-G

Smith was back on the hill on Saturday, Feb. 20, for the Super-G and once again, despite not getting air time from NBC, managed a solid run from start to bottom and finished 18th overall in a time of 1:23.05.

Andrea Fischbacher of Austria was the overall winner in 1:20.14, with Tina Maze of Slovenia in second place in 1:20.63 and Vonn third in 1:20.88. Mancuso earned a ninth place finish in 1:21.50 and fellow US skier Chelsea Marshall crashed and didn't finish the course.

Smith's performance in the slalom portion of the super-combined put her coaches on notice and there is a possibility that she will ski the slalom event, which is set for Friday.

Check the sports section's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wolfeboro-Falls-NH/Salmon-Press-Sports-Wolfeboro for any updates on Smith's Olympic status.

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