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Alpine skiing: U.S. hoping for a turnaround

Julia Mancuso of the U.S. reacts in the finish area during the women's alpine skiing Super G competition during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympi
Julia Mancuso of the U.S. reacts in the finish area during the women's alpine skiing Super G competition during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympi

By Alan Baldwin

ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Reuters) - The U.S. ski team has just one medal at the halfway point in the Olympic competition but hopes and confidence levels remain high despite the disappointment, Alpine director Patrick Riml told reporters on Saturday.

In Vancouver four years ago, U.S. Alpine skiers took two golds, three silvers and three bronzes with all of them won in the speed events.

At Sochi, the women wrapped up their speed program on Saturday with a single bronze - Julia Mancuso's surprise success in super combined - to their credit.

The men, after a downhill and a super combined that was expected to favor them, have yet to medal.

"We probably expect a little more, to be honest," said Riml after a news conference with women's slalom world champion Mikaela Shiffrin.

"I'm still very pleased with the way the guys are skiing, everybody is very confident and we've got to leave that (disappointment) behind and do a thorough analysis after the Games," he said.

"But we can look ahead now and really prepare ourselves for the upcoming races.

Sunday's men's super-G is the last speed race of the program before the final week is dedicated to the technical disciplines - giant slalom and slalom - but Riml said there was still plenty to play for.

Ted Ligety is world champion in giant slalom and super-G, as well as combined and he and Shiffrin have both been on form in the World Cup this season.

"We still have strong athletes, Ted going into the next couple of days and then Mikaela being here," said Riml. "The Games are not over yet. We're halfway through, we have some strong performers and good events coming up for us."

Andrew Weibrecht won a bronze in men's super-G in 2010 with Bode Miller, who has recognized he has a vision problem when the weather is overcast, taking silver.

"It's challenging to win eight medals. Last year we won five (at the world championships) and Lindsey Vonn was not racing last year," said Riml. Vonn, the 2010 Olympic downhill champion, is injured and not in Sochi.

"We do have the athletes able to perform at a very high level at big events. You've got to be also a little bit lucky when you want to be on the podium.

"The luck was on our side in the super combined on the women's side with Julia, in the downhill men and women maybe it was not on our side."

Some skiers have blamed warm weather and soft snow for their failures, but Riml was not playing that card.

"That's not an excuse for me," he said. "The conditions are unusual, there's no doubt about that, but it's the same for everybody."

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Clare Lovell)

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