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Street, U.S. strong in downhill training run

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Sunday, February 10, 2002
Street eases up, has seventh-best training time

Associated Press

SNOWBASIN, Utah -- Picabo Street wasn't the fastest in the second training run for the Olympic women's downhill, and that's just the way she wanted it.

Street, who had the best time of all entrants in Saturday's first training run, eased up through the lower portion of the Wildflower course on Sunday and had the seventh-fastest time, then pronounced herself ready for Monday's race.

"I didn't want to walk out of here with the heat on my shoulders like I did yesterday," she said, "so it's fine."

The favorites for the race were among the quickest down the course on Sunday.

Renate Goetschl of Austria, the 2000 overall World Cup champion and runner-up in last year's World Cup downhill standings, had the top time at 1 minute, 40.27 seconds.

Fellow Austrian Michaela Dorfmeister, the overall leader in the World Cup standings, was second at 1:40.67. Canadian Melanie Turgeon was third and Hilde Gerg of Germany, the reigning downhill world champion, was fourth at 1:41.27.

Isolde Kostner of Italy, the World Cup downhill points leader, was eighth, one spot behind Street.

Street said that while she was satisfied with her run, she's not happy with her skis and plans to switch back to the pair she used in Thursday's run.

"Hopefully, they're fast enough," she said.

Uncharacteristically, Street wasn't very talkative after Sunday's run, which was completed in the early afternoon, following the men's downhill race.

At 30, she knew she could be racing for the last time on Monday, when she climaxes the latest and toughest of her remarkable comebacks. A winner of the silver medal in the downhill at the Lillehammer Olympics in 1994, Street won the gold in the super giant slalom four years later at the Nagano Games.

Just a month after that, though, she crashed in the World Cup finals, breaking her left femur and mangling her right knee. She didn't ski again for two years and has had no better than a fifth-place finish since rejoining the World Cup circuit late last season.

Street almost certainly won't defend her Super G title next weekend because other Americans have far better results in that event this winter. She says she hasn't decided whether to retire to her Park City home after the Olympics, or ski through the national championships in Squaw Valley, Calif., in March.

While Street approached the end of her career, the younger women on the U.S. team were hoping for a breakthrough performance in Salt Lake City.

Kirsten Clark, 24, of Raymond, Maine, was 18th Sunday; Jonna Mendes, 22, of Heavenly, Calif., was 18th. Caroline Lalive, 22, of Steamboat Springs, Colo., was second-fastest behind Street on Saturday and was 11th on Sunday.

"It's training," Lalive said. "Tomorrow is the day that counts, and I'll give it my all."