KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia -- Julia Mancuso's final race of the 2014 Olympics could not have gone worse Tuesday.

The Squaw Valley Olympian struggled on a rainy, snowy day in the Caucasus Mountains and skied off course on the first of the two-run giant slalom at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center.

America's most decorated female alpine skier with four Olympic medals failed to finish. After winning a bronze medal in the super combined, Mancuso finished eighth in the downhill and super-G last week for her best performances of the season in those disciplines.

"I learned, especially from the super G, that it's the Olympics and you have to go for it," Mancuso told reporters, referring to skiing too conservatively last week.

United States’ Julia Mancuso reacts after skiing out of the first run of the women’s giant slalom at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Tuesday,
United States' Julia Mancuso reacts after skiing out of the first run of the women's giant slalom at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. ((AP Photo/Gero Breloer))

Slovenian star Tina Maze won the gold medal, followed by Austria's Ann Fenninger and Germany's Viktoria Rebensberg. U.S. teen Mikaela Shiffrin was fifth in her Olympic debut.

Mancuso, 29, said inconsistent snow and poor visibility bothered her.

"I caught a really soft spot and it twisted me," she told reporters. "That's the only bummer when the snow's like this, you really have to be precise. You can't get out of body position, otherwise it gets the best of you."

The Tahoe skier went into the first gate too straight and got water on her goggles.

"So, then I was thinking, 'OK, now I've just got to go with feeling,'" Mancuso said.

The four-time Olympian won't leave Sochi disappointed after experiencing a rough start to the season.


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"At the beginning of the season, I felt like there was no way I could come back," she said. "But after coming here, and having that magical day, it makes me want to keep going."

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