CORTINA D'AMPEZZO, Italy — Lindsey Kildow finished her big week in tears.
After finishing second, third and fourth in World Cup races to show she's a contender for the upcoming world championships, the American made a big error midway through her downhill run Sunday and finished 18th.
"I don't want to seem like I'm ungrateful, but it's a hard one to take. I've been skiing so well and I know I could have won today," said Kildow, the only skier faster than winner Michaela Dorfmeister at each of the first two checkpoints before miscalculating a turn and having her chances of victory disappear in a big cloud of snow spray.
"I almost crashed," she said, crying. "Right now it's depressing."
Kildow's worst downhill result of the season dropped her from second to third in the discipline standings with only two more downhills left.
Austria's Renate Goetschl, who finished second Sunday and had her three-race winning streak snapped, leads the downhill standings with 435 points. Germany's Hilde Gerg, who was third Sunday, is next with 375, followed by Kildow at 348. Wins are worth 100 points.
"When you know you're most likely not going to be able to regain the points to win the downhill title it's really disappointing," she said. "I worked so hard and I've been skiing well. I'm just still making mistakes. It will come. I learn something every day."
At age 20 and with one win and six top-three finishes this season, Kildow is one of the most talented young skiers on the circuit.
"I'm not ever satisfied with myself and I think that makes me strive for better skiing," she said. "But sometimes it works at a disadvantage, like today, because I'm going to be really hard on myself."
Goetschl's second-place finish vaulted her ahead of Croatia's Janica Kostelic into the overall World Cup lead.
"It's tough to compete against Renate, she's in such great form," Dorfmeister said after her 19th career victory. "But today I had almost a strange sensation in the starting hut. I wasn't as nervous as usual, and I was able to ski the exact line I wanted."
Austria's Dorfmeister finished in 1 minute, 36.62 seconds, 0.59 ahead of Goetschl. Gerg was 0.78 behind. Kildow ended up finishing 1.69 back.
Kostelic was fourth Sunday and defending overall champion Anja Paerson of Sweden was fifth, her best downhill result since she began competing in the event last season. The top Americans were Julia Mancuso, who was eighth, and Kirsten Clark in 10th place.
Goetschl, a former overall winner, leads those standings with 798 points, followed by Kostelic (789) and Dorfmeister (712), who moved up from sixth. Paerson and Finland's Tanja Poutiainen, who does not compete in downhill, are tied for fourth with 706. Kildow is sixth overall with 638.
Sunday's race was the last downhill before the world championships, which will be held Jan. 29 to Feb. 13. Kildow plans to race in at least three events at the worlds — downhill, super-giant slalom and combined — and maybe four if she also qualifies in giant slalom.
"I have to be tough on myself because in the world championships it's going to be the same way," she said.
"I'm going to have all these races and I have to be at the top of my game for a long period of time. This week was kind of a test for me to see how well I handled it. Maybe I don't have the best results like today, but other days were good."