KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia – In a stunning start to the women's super-G, seven of the first eight skiers – including six in a row – failed to finish the event at the Sochi Games.
The United States' Leanne Smith pushed off second in the starting order after watching Spain's Carolina Ruiz Castillo miss a gate and fail to finish. But Smith became notable in that she actually completed the course, as the next six skiers all either fell or missed gates. Sochi downhill gold medalist Dominique Gisin from Switzerland also failed to finish after starting from the 11th position.
As one skier after another spun off the course, others later in the order huddled around a monitor in the starting area, trying to understand where the mistakes were being made. Others who had failed to finish began sending information back up the mountain to teammates, laying out all the trouble areas. That helped the field catch up as the event carried on. Eighteen of 49 skiers ultimately didn't finish their runs, while one more didn't start the race.
As skiers improved their lines, Smith was pushed down to 16th in the event.
"All you have to do is problem-solve, and watch me go down and make my mistakes – be the guinea pig," Smith said. "It's how these later girls make the adjustment."
U.S. medal contender Julia Mancuso also managed to finish the run, but settled off the podium in eighth place. The United States' other two skiers – Laurenne Ross and Stacey Cook – both failed to finish. That leaves the American Alpine contingent with one medal, a super combined bronze from Mancuso, after five total races (three races in the women's program and two in the men's).
"For my run, I think I watched too many people have bad runs and it got to me," Mancuso said. "The hardest thing for me to overcome – even though I am feeling good on my skis and got that first medal which was magical – I lack a little bit of confidence from not having good results in the start of the season."
Warm weather once again expected on Sunday, the men's super-G has been moved up an hour to 10 a.m. local time, in hopes of combatting soft snow on later runs.