Squaw’s Julia Mancuso hopes injury time off will rejuvenate career
Special to the Sun
OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif. — Julia Mancuso did not have her best season. Known for Olympic medals and dominating the World Cup field, the Squaw Valley skier was frustrated as she missed podium after podium.
After a good start in December — sharing the Lake Louise downhill podium with teammates Lindsey Vonn and Truckee’s Stacey Cook — she could not take back her reign of the World Cup.
Then, right before World Cup Finals, Mancuso made the hard decision to leave the World Cup and head home. It came out that her hip had flared up again, an injury she had battled throughout her career.
It triggered the question, “Does this mean Julia is retiring?”
The U.S. Ski Team caught up with Mancuso for an email Q-and-A about her World Cup career, her love of backcountry skiing and, most importantly, her skiing future.
Julia Mancuso Q-and-A
USST: Why did you decide to leave the World Cup? How did you make the decision?
Mancuso: “Racing didn’t make sense for me at the time. I want to be fighting for the podium, not just making down. I had been going through a lot of pain and I didn’t feel like I was in a position to really push it hard.”
USST: How are you feeling about missing World Cup Finals?
Mancuso: “I am definitely bummed to miss out on going to World Cup Finals. It’s been a really long career of me being there. But I’ve never missed one, so it’s OK to look at the big picture and search for answers. I’ll heal up and be better than ever next year.”
USST: How do you think the season went for you?
Mancuso: “I was really excited at how the season started. Sharing the podium with my friends and teammates was really amazing and definitely a highlight of my career. Every year for me is different. I very much feel that skiing is even more about fun now, and in order for me to have fun, I need to be healthy. So I need to go back and really figure that out before I can be back in a place that I really love to ski.”
USST: What are your plans for the spring and summer?
Mancuso: “I have a couple more ski trips planned for spring, as long as my medical advisors said OK. I definitely don’t have a ton of pain; it’s more that I can’t perform at the very top level. I’m headed out for a CMH heli-ski trip in the Gothic Mountains, and then I am also going on a trip with my good friend Sierra Quitiquit to Alaska. That’ll be out of Alyeska with Chugach Powder Guides. After my ski trips, I will make a plan and figure out if there’s a special method of training that I can add to my program, or if any more medical procedures are necessary. I am hoping to figure out the problem in the spring so I have all summer to train for next season.”
USST: What does your future on the World Cup look like?
Mancuso: “My goal is to compete through the 2018 Olympics. I also plan on participating in a couple of other projects — one of them is with Sierra Quitiquit and another for Shades of Winter (an all female freeskiing film). Both of the projects are about celebrating the female athlete and inspiring the next generation to enjoy nature and really follow their dreams. I’m excited to use my ski career in another playing field.”
USST: What do you plan on pursuing when you’re done ski racing?
Mancuso: “I hope that I can inspire kids to go out there and explore and have fun and really be him/herself. I think that there’s a lot of pressure on young women to be a certain way and it’s important to just really cherish who you are, build on strength and explore your inner passion. I hope to get into work where I can bring my passion and experience to other people and help them shine their light. I will never stop exploring either. I hope to somehow travel the world and share my experiences with everyone I don’t know.”
USST: Anything else you want to tell your fans?
Mancuso: “Just that I will be back next year on the World Cup stronger than ever. I’m really looking forward to continuing my racing career and competing in the next Olympics and also competing in the #funOlympics every day! Thanks for being my fans — you’re definitely a big part of what keeps me going every day.”