KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia -- Squaw Valley's Julia Mancuso thought too much. Again.

It cost her. Again.

The mental game planted just enough doubt to spoil Mancuso's bid to join Bode Miller as America's most decorated Olympic skier with five medals.

Mancuso and Team USA suffered another blow Saturday at Rosa Khutor Alpine Center while Austria reigned on a super-G course designed by its coach, Fabien Winkler.

With eight of the 13 racers before her failing to finish, Mancuso worried about getting to the bottom of the challenging course instead of letting loose.

"The super-G takes confidence, and watching some of these people go down and have bad runs, it kind of took me back a notch," she said.

Anna Fenninger of Austria won the gold medal, followed by Germany's Maria Hoefl-Riesch and Austrian Nicole Hosp. Fenninger completed the track in 1 minute 25.52 seconds -- a whopping .55 of a second ahead of the silver medalist.

Mancuso placed eighth, 1.52 seconds behind the winner on a day 18 of 49 starters couldn't manage the course.

"I could have been more on the limit," said Mancuso, who has four Olympic medals. "But you still want to finish."

After five of 10 alpine races, the United States has a mere medal -- Mancuso's bronze in the downhill-slalom super combined race.

It's quite a contrast to the record haul of eight medals four years ago in Vancouver.


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But with star Lindsey Vonn unable to compete because of a knee injury, the United States doesn't appear strong enough to contend with the European speed stars.

The top five Saturday -- Lara Gut of Switzerland was fourth and Tina Maze of Slovenia fifth -- represent a "murderer's row" of women alpine skiers.

Mancuso hoped to break out of Vonn's shadows in Sochi. The two have skied against each other since childhood.

But so far the Tahoe skier isn't gaining much traction. Yet, she was feeling positive after the race because Mancuso has three top 10 finishes in Sochi.

"This is still my second best ski race this year," Mancuso said of the super-G finish. "Everyone is still looking big picture. Everyone is good at putting things in perspective."

Mancuso, 29, has won three medals in the super-G at World Championships but never in the Olympics. The hybrid race -- officially known as the super giant slalom -- is considered a speed event like the downhill. It is physically challenging because of the speed and technical skills needed to barrel through the 43 gates.

Mancuso seemed to gain speed in the rough curve after a big jump that gobbled up the early starters. But she didn't push through with enough power to earn a medal.

"In the downhill it really pulls you wide under a side hill before you go off there," she said of a portion of the course. "I knew you'd be going a little faster.''

Mancuso, though, blamed the snow conditions and not the track design for her problems.

"Once you land on this pitch, there is no purchase," she said. "You can't get away with having your skis out underneath you at all, and you have to adjust to that."

After winning a medal in the opening event, Mancuso also was eighth in the women's downhill.

Perhaps eighth is enough.

She ends the Sochi Games on Tuesday with the giant slalom, a race Mancuso won at the 2006 Turin Games.

Mammoth Lake's Stacey Cook was among those who failed to finish. Cook, who grew up in Truckee, also failed to finish the slalom run of the super combined.

Leanne Smith, of North Conway, N.H., was the only other American skier to reach the bottom -- and she was 18th.

Smith went second but didn't mind being the test for the big hitters to come.

"It just carried a little bit further than we expected," Smith said. "You had to have the right direction on the jump because you're landing almost on the next gate."

For some reason, the top Europeans didn't struggle with the course the way the Americans did.

Fenninger is the third consecutive Austrian to win an Olympic super-G. She said good intel from coaches -- yes, the coach who designed the course -- paid dividends through the final tricky section some were calling "Dead Woman's Curve."

Hoefl-Riesch won her fourth medal in eight Olympic races -- the first time she didn't get gold.

This one surprised her the most after the German made a mistake on the last pitch.

"It was the key to ski these turns perfect," she said. "I was just happy to stay on the course. It was a big surprise that I was still so fast."

Hoefl-Riesch had another surprise during her fierce run. A course worker appeared as she descended, but the skier was so locked in that it didn't affect her.

Hoefl-Riesch could have filed a protest.

"I saw the guy, and I saw he was moving backward away from the gate," she said. "Of course, this shouldn't happen because it is dangerous."

Contact Elliott Almond at 408-920-5865. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/elliottalmond.