Olympic champion Julia Mancuso announces retirement from ski racing | SierraSun.com

Olympic champion Julia Mancuso announces retirement from ski racing

Julia Mancuso retired from competitive skiing after racing in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Itally on Friday, Jan. 19.

After an 18-year run in the sport of alpine skiing, one of the greatest athletes Squaw Valley has ever produced has decided to call it a career.

Julia Mancuso, 33, fought back from a hip injury to return to competition this season, but on Friday, Jan. 19, the legendary skier took a victory lap during the downhill competition in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, signaling an end to a storied career at the same place where, in 2006, she earned her first podium finish.

"It has been an epic battle with my hip injury, and the past three years I have put everything into returning to competition at the highest level and the goal to reach my fifth Olympic games," said Mancuso in a statement from U.S. Ski & Snowboard. "There have been really promising days during this challenging process, and I have kept my spirits up despite many who questioned or doubted me. Sadly, I haven't found the progression to compete with the best in the world again, but I'm proud to have fought until the very end. It is with a heavy heart that I say goodbye to ski racing, but I do so with a full heart."

Mancuso has struggled with hip issues for much of her career, and had surgery after the 2014-15 season.

After more than a two-year layoff, Mancuso returned to World Cup action last December, in St. Moritz, Switzerland. However, the Squaw Valley product struggled in her four World Cup appearances during the season, and never posted a finish better than 41st place.

With her final race behind her, Mancuso exits the sport as the most decorated female Olympic skier in US history with an unprecedented four medals. She made four Olympic teams and took gold in giant slalom in Torino, Italy in 2006, silver in downhill and super combined in Vancouver in 2010, and bronze in super combined in Sochi, Russia in 2014.

Recommended Stories For You

As a junior ski racer, Mancuso collected an American record eight Junior World Championship medals. She began World Cup racing and was a NorAm champion at 16,  and then competed in the Olympics at 17.

Her accomplishments on the World Cup circuit have been equally as impressive with seven World Cup victories across four disciplines. Mancuso closes out her career with 36 World Cup podiums in 398 career World Cup starts.

Highlights of Julia Mancuso's years

Thank you for everything, Julia Mancuso. ?? #SuperJules

Posted by U.S. Ski & Snowboard Team on Friday, January 19, 2018

With the 2018 Winter Olympics scheduled to start next month, Mancuso still plans to head to South Korea, though not as an athlete. Instead, she will join the NBC Olympics team in PyeongChang. Mancuso will contribute features on a variety of platforms, according to a statement from U.S. Ski & Snowboard, including The Olympic Zone – a nightly 30-minute show that airs on NBC affiliates – and will also serve as a reporter, covering venues and locations throughout the Games. Mancuso worked for NBC in a similar capacity at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

"I am so grateful for all the incredible opportunities I've been provided and the amazing friendships I've made along the way. I'd like to thank the U.S. Ski Team, GoPro, KT Tape, POC, Spyder, Squaw Valley, Stoeckli, and Swix for their unwavering support during the past few seasons," said Mancuso in a statement.

"I'd also like to thank my family, sponsors, and my team for believing in me, my doctors and fans, and especially my husband who has supported me through these difficult times. I am happy that I got to ski my last race here in Cortina – one of my favorite stops on the tour. I had my first podium here, and now I get to say farewell. I'm excited to see where skiing and life's adventure will take me next!"

This post will be updated.