Olympics / Sports

Germany's Maria Hoefl-Riesch celebrates her gold medal finish in the women's super combined skiing at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center during the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Monday, Feb. 10, 2014. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/MCT)

Mancuso's bronze medal 'a dream come true'

ADLER, Russia -- It isn't always about gold. Sometimes bronze is enough for an athlete to punch the air in triumph.

That was Julia Mancuso's reaction Monday when she extended her reign as the most decorated U.S. woman in the history of Olympic Alpine skiing.

Mancuso finished third in the super combined in the mountains of Krasnaya Polyana, giving her four career medals in the Games. No other American woman -- and that's including Lindsey Vonn and Picabo Street -- has won more than two.

"It's pretty cool," Mancuso, 29, said. "Skiing and growing up with Lindsey, who's just amazing on the World Cup and breaking records left and right there, to have something that I can break records in at the same time is fun and exciting for me."

Mancuso also won gold in the giant slalom in 2006 and silvers in both the downhill and super-combined in 2010.

The super-combined consists of a morning downhill run and, four hours later, an afternoon slalom run.

A native of Reno, Nev., Mancuso was leading Monday after the downhill portion. She eventually lost to Germany's Maria Hoefl-Riesch, who was heavily favored, but Mancuso navigated the slalom course swiftly enough to stay on the podium.

"To be honest, I thought I was blowing it in slalom," Mancuso said. "But I knew to just fight to the finish, because you have no idea. I'm sure it was one of those courses where everyone didn't feel great.

"Crossing the finish line, just seeing my name in the top three, it didn't even matter that I could have been better. All that mattered was crossing the finish line with a solid run. Of course, getting another medal is really a dream come true."

The result, especially with her showing in the downhill, elevated Mancuso to among the favorites in that individual event, set for Wednesday.

"I know I can really be fast in the downhill," she said. "I know how to be fast."

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