2010 Olympic Watch: Mancuso visits home mountain before Games | SierraSun.com

2010 Olympic Watch: Mancuso visits home mountain before Games

Greyson Howard
Sierra Sun
Greyson Howard/Sierra SunJulia Mancuso takes practice runs at Squaw Valley USA Saturday before heading to the Olympic Games.

OLYMPIC VALLEY and#8212; The snow was falling lightly at Squaw Valley USA Saturday, but Julia Mancuso was coming down fast.

Taking practice runs in preparation for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games, Mancuso stopped at the bottom to sign the helmets of young skiers, and to answer a few questions from the press and her fans.

and#8220;I had a week off before the Olympics and couldnand#8217;t think of a better place than home,and#8221; said Mancuso, who grew up in Olympic Valley and was first on skis at the age of 2.

Mancuso, now 25, will look to earn Olympic hardware to add to the gold medal she won in giant slalom at the 2006 Games in Turin, Italy. Looking toward her third Winter Olympics, she said sheand#8217;s feeling healthy, fit and positive with no expectations.

and#8220;My approach is anything is possible,and#8221; Mancuso said.

Her father, Ciro Mancuso, was also at the bottom of the mountain, excited to have Julia back for the weekend.

and#8220;Squaw Valley has done a tremendous job and#8212; having her around friends and family … that kind of reception and kick-off really warms the heart,and#8221; Ciro said.

Friends and family will accompany Mancuso to the Games as well, including other local Olympians on the U.S. Alpine team like Stacey Cook and Marco Sullivan.

and#8220;Itand#8217;ll be fun to cheer them on and#8212; we all grew up together and Daron (Rahlves) has been a role model,and#8221; Mancuso said.

Looking past the upcoming Olympic games, Mancuso said again, anything is possible.

and#8220;As long as Iand#8217;m having fun and enjoying it Iand#8217;m going to keep doing it,and#8221; she said.

Mancuso has quite the ski racing resume, having made more than 250 World Cup starts while finishing on the podium 19 times and earning four wins.

Although 2009 was a challenge for Mancuso, who missed the World Cup podium for the first time since 2006 while dealing with a back injury, she has stepped up her game lately with a couple of top-10 finishes in Cortina dand#8217;Ampezzo, Italy, and Haus im Ennstal.

Despite Mancusoand#8217;s injuries in 2009, she finished the year with a 10th U.S. Championship, tying Bode Miller for most all-time.

With nine local athletes headed to the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games, go to http://www.sierrasun.com/2010olympics to stay up to date.