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Mancuso building toward Sochi

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POSTED January 17, 2014 11:27 p.m.

CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, Italy (AP) — Julia Mancuso is not afraid to say it: her entire season will be defined by the Sochi Olympics.

And for a skier who has always thrived at the games, that suits her just fine.

“I have three weeks now until the Olympics and I still have my goals set on Sochi,” Mancuso said in snowy Cortina, where an ongoing blizzard forced Friday’s World Cup downhill training to be canceled.

“So every race week now is just a building block to that and obviously the World Cup is not much of a focus for me anymore,” the Californian added. “It’s more training for the Olympics, because of how it started. But every race is a really great opportunity.”

Mancuso’s World Cup season has not been one to remember so far. Her best result was 12th in a giant slalom in St. Moritz, Switzerland, last month. Her only other top-15 finish was 13th in a downhill in Altenmarkt, Austria, last weekend.

But Mancuso has been in this situation before. She was also in a slump entering the 2010 Vancouver Games — and came away with two silver medals.

And at the 2006 Turin Games, she won gold in giant slalom before ever winning a World Cup race.

Thus her Olympic record tops that of longtime teammate Lindsey Vonn, who is injured and will miss Sochi.

“The Olympics are just so special for me, because I just never knew about the World Cup when I was growing up,” said Mancuso, who is from Squaw Valley — site of the 1960 Winter Games.

“I only knew about the Olympics and I passed the Olympic rings every day on my way to school and I just grew up in a place where the Olympics really are a legacy and I always had that dream,” Mancuso added. “So I’ve just been thinking about that ever since I was a little kid. And now going into my fourth Olympics I’m just really grateful for all the good experiences I had.”

Ligety wins super-combined

Ted Ligety earned his first super-combined victory on the World Cup on Friday — a discipline he already owns an Olympic and world championship title in but had curiously never won on the season-long circuit.

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