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Lindsey Vonn looks to build on US skiing's best-ever Olympics

The US has won six alpine skiing medals in the first four events, the most it has ever won in a single Winter Olympics – and Lindsey Vonn's best event, the super-G, is today.

By Staff writer, Staff writer / February 20, 2010

US skier Lindsey Vonn in the women's super combined slalom on Thursday. Though she did not medal in the super combined due to a fall, there are high hopes for her in Saturday's super-g.

Alessandro Trovati/AP

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Vancouver, British Columbia

When NBC went about planning its Winter Olympic coverage, this was what it was hoping for.

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The women’s super-G has arrived, and an American woman still has a chance to win a medal in all five alpine skiing events.

That woman, however, is not Lindsey Vonn.

It is Julia Mancusco, the exuberant, tiara-wearing skier whose Olympic medal-winning streak actually dates back to Turin, where she won the final race of the 2006 Games.

And she is not the only one. Partly atoning for his zero-medal, multi-party performance in Turin, Bode Miller has won a medal in both of the opening events in Whistler.

Still, today is expected to be about Vonn, who has clinched the title of best women’s super-G skier this season with two World Cup races to spare.

But the success of the US ski team around her is stunning. Realistically, no one is going to win five medals, but as a team, America has won six medals in four events, making this the best Olympic performance by the United States in the history of alpine skiing.

And Americans are strong contenders in races still to come.

The cornerstones of success

The success is founded on Miller and Vonn, who sit at Nos. 1 and 2 for all-time World Cup wins by an American. Each has also won two World Cup overall titles, the prize awarded to the best all-around skier in the world that season. Vonn is well-positioned to win a third this year.

Together, their results have infused the US team with confidence. Yet, perhaps just as important, they have also helped create a sense of team unity, transforming the pressure of Olympic skiing into an appreciation of the possible.

“Our team is feeding off each other,” said Miller after he and teammate Andrew Weibrecht took silver and bronze in the super-G Friday. “We’re letting go of attention on results and just skiing in that inspired way – and we’re seeing a level of US skiing that we haven’t seen in a long time.”

That these words came from Miller are proof of how dramatically the course of his career has changed in the past six months.