Featured on three magazine covers – Health, Outside, Women- Julia Mancuso is emerging as one of the more prominent American female athletes heading to the Sochi Winter Games. Each magazine celebrates her career with an emphasis on her various workout routines and approach to living a rich and full life.
Employing yoga and stretching as part of her daily regimen, a foam roller has also served as a practical method for Mancuso to work on her core and balance. After chronic knee pain resulted in hip dysplasia in 2006, it was a key boon in toughening her mental strength and learning to stay positive.
An avid fan of the Nike Training Club app, her off-snow training also involves pilates. On race day, stretching and Qigong, which helps raise her body temperature tend to be part of her pre-race rituals.
From a nutrition perspective, a breakfast smoothie consisting of powdered greens, whey protein and coconut water provides the jump start she requires in order to conquer the slope. It also serves as a key element in boosting her immunity when she travels. As a side note, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is also a favorite snack.
One of the most endearing aspects of the various magazine profiles involves a question on rituals and lucky charms. While she states she is not like several athletes that may be superstitious, she employs a sense of humor in wearing lucky underwear. The joke has caught on with friends and family, who have underwear that featured her nickname, Super Jules, on it. As a side note, she also launched her own lingerie line in 2010 called “Kiss My Tiara”, (her coach gave her a tiara as a good-luck charm in 2005).
Raised in Squaw Valley, California, skiing has remained a constant in her life. Whether it was skiing on the snow in winter or the water in summer, it would complement a lifestyle which included surfing and paddle boarding. For Mancuso, while activity in water (such as in her happy place of Maui) welcomes a chance of pace, it is also essential in building and maintaining fitness.
As one of the most accomplished racers in American history, Mancuso is one of the favorites to capture a gold medal. Making an impression at Torino 2006, she captured a gold medal in the giant slalom. Four years later at Vancouver, she followed it up with two silver medals. After the win, a ski run at Squaw Valley was renamed Julia’s Gold.
While Sochi represents her fourth sojourn on the world’s biggest sporting stage, she shoulders a significant pressure due to the injury sustained by rival and friend Lindsey Vonn. Ironically, the two share the same coach. Despite the pressure, her confidence increased at Cortina D’Ampezzo, Italy. In mid-January, she led the downhill training against the likes of Johanna Schnarf and Maria Hoefl-Riesch.
Her laid-back approach does not mirror her ambition as she shows no signs of retiring after Sochi. While the presence of Mikaela Shiffrin, an 18-year-old American skier who is poised to be part of the next generation of star US skiers, may be seen as competition, it is also a tremendous source of motivation. Despite the fact that no woman has won a World Cup race after the age of 32, Mancuso is determined to challenge convention.