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Tricia Mangan ready for her Olympic debut

Today is the day Tricia Mangan and her family have been waiting for. The day when she steps to the top of the giant slalom course at the Yongpyong Alpine venue  for her Winter Olympic debut at the Pyeongchange games in South Korea.

The first run in the women's giant slalom is scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Buffalo time, but it will actually be Thursday morning in Korea. The top 30 from the first run will qualify for the second run starting at 11:15 p.m. Buffalo time with the combined times of the two runs deciding the placing.

To make it fair, the 30 qualifiers for the second run will ski in the inverse order of the first run.

It's been a crazy week for Mangan, a 20-year-old Dartmouth College sophomore from Derby, and her family.

Tricia didn't learn she had been named to the U.S. Alpine Ski team for the Olympics until just four days before the opening ceremonies of the games.

Then high winds, up to 40 mph, at the Jeongseon Mountain venue caused the event to be postponed from Monday.

"I think I will be the same amount of nervous on race day as I would be if I knew months in advance that I was coming to the Olympics," Mandan said. "For me, the nerves don't happen until race day."

Mangan says the delay won't affect her ability to compete.

"I was definitely bummed the race got delayed," she said. "But now that is has, I’ve definitely been able to capitalize on three extra days of rest, training, and preparation for the GS on Thursday. I'm really excited."

If Mangan, who began skiing as a toddler at Holimont in Ellicottville, is a long shot to reach a podium. She figures to be overshadowed by Mikaele Shiffrin a former Olympic gold medal winners. Shiffrin and Lindsey Vonn, have become the face of American women's Alpine skiing, Many expect Shiffrin to bid for multiple gold medals in the Alpine events. She won the slalom at the Sochi Games four years ago. Vonn the downhill in the 2010 games.

Last week, while Tricia was still in Davos, Switzerland after a competition there  she learned she was going to Korea. The sudden change of plans had the Mangan family scrambling to arrange travel and accomodations in Pyeongchang.  Her parents, David and Martha, and her five siblings, twin brother William, older brothers Connor and Peter, younger brother Andrew and younger sister Mary Catherine all are Pyeongchang to watch Tricia compete.

"It is so awesome that my whole family was able to make it," Tricia said. "They have always been my biggest support system and are most definitely a huge part of the reason I made it here to the Olympics. "To have them all here means so much to me. I'm especially excited that my brother Andrew is here. He broke his neck last year and has made an incredible recovery and is a huge inspiration to me."

In addition to Shiffrin and Mangan, the U.S. will be represented in the giant slalom by Megan McJames, and Resi Stiegler. It's the third Olympics for McJames and the second for Stiegler.

Giant slalom races involves skiing between gates spaced at a greater distance than in the slalom but less than the Super G. The number of gates for women is between 46 and 58. Mangan also is scheduled to compete in the super combined on Feb. 23 (Feb. 22 Buffalo time).


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