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American alpine skier tops Moscow World Cup event

Published time: February 22, 2012 11:17
Edited time: February 22, 2012 15:17

Julia Mancuso of USA competes at the FIS Ski World Cup Parallel Slalom city event in Moscow on February 21, 2012 (AFP Photo / Natalia Kolesnikova)

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Julia Mancuso of the US has come out as winner at the first ever Alpine Ski World Cup stage held in the Russian capital on an artificial slope.

­Not even winter frost could prevent Muscovites from staying outdoors on Tuesday evening as many wanted to watch the pick of alpine skiing in action.

It was the first time this huge ramp in the heart of the Russian capital has hosted a World Cup leg, with the top 15's in the men's and women's overall standings going head-to-head on the 56-meter high slope.

In the parallel slalom, the city event, which is unique for the sport, turned out to be full of surprises.

And the first one was finding two boxing stars – the world’s top female boxer Natalya Ragozina and former WBA champ Nikolay Valuev – among the spectators.

“The organizers even offered me to get there on the ramp and test the slope,” Ragozina said. “It scares me a bit, but I feel I could do it in terms of proper preparation. I have six-year’s experience in alpine skiing so far and I just love it.”

“Oh no, I can't do that,” 2.13-meter-tall Nikolay Valuev laughed. “Alpine skiing is almost impossible for a man of my weight. To be more precise, it's even dangerous for the skiers and for the people around.”

Meanwhile, some more bombshells came from the competition itself. Ladies were first in the spotlight and the three-time World Cup winner and current season leader Lindsey Vohn was only left with third place.

The American edged out in the semifinal by her compatriot, Julia Mancuso, who continued her brilliant run in the finals against Michaela Kirchgasser to claim the Moscow crown.

“It's always tough to go against your team mate not in the finals,” Mancuso told RT. “Anything happens up there, and I got lucky when she hooked an arm, so I was able to relax a little in the second round. And that's how the parallel is – it's half mental and half physical.”

“I'm very impressed with building the slope in the middle of Moscow. And the format and everything was very cool and exciting for us – racers. We really liked it. And it was a good job,” she added.

The men's event proved to be unpredictable too, with Croatian World Cup leader Ivica Kostelić being out of the competition due to injury.

It was Alexis Pinturault who claimed the very first World Cup win in his career. The 20-year-old, whose pre-game plan was just to gain experience confidently made it to the big final where he faced German Felix Neureuther.

Two rounds saw the pair take turns taking the lead, but it was the Frenchman who proved the fastest on the night.