Lindsey Vonn maintains her winning ways with strong start to 2016

Following a tumultuous 2014 that saw Lindsey Vonn endure emotional struggle with injuries, missing the 2014 Sochi Winter Games and a relationship with Tiger Woods reaching its end in 2015, she is on her way back towards staking her claim as the greatest skier of her generation. Strongly focused, Ingemar Stenmark’s record of 86 World Cup wins is still within reach for Vonn.

During a series of Alpine Skiing World Cup races in Zauchensee, Austria, Vonn continued her record chase by grabbing a win in the super-G race. Overall, said win allowed Vonn her 73rd career victory across all Alpine disciplines, and 25 in the super-G.

Photo credit: (Andrea Solero, EPA)

Photo credit: (Andrea Solero, EPA)

The first super-G race of the season was contested in December 2015 at Lake Louise, which was also won by Vonn. World Cup points leader Lara Gut of Switzerland finished second to Vonn by the merest fraction of a time, just 0.7 seconds.

In addition, she managed to equal a 36-year-old downhill record, only adding to her jubilation. Said record had first been set by Annemarie Moser-Proell in 1980 with the 36th World Cup downhill victory of her career. As a side note, Moser-Proell was in attendance at the event.

The win also represented the second in two days for Vonn as it was the first women’s downhill race since 2002 to be contested over a pair of runs. During the first downhill race event, Canada’s Larisa Yurkiw finished in second place, just one second back of Vonn’s winning time. For Yurkiw, the resort was where she made her World Cup debut in 2007.

Julia Mancuso earns three magazine covers as she prepares to defend gold at Sochi

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.

Gracing the cover of Health Magazine, cover date February 2014

Gracing the cover of Health Magazine, cover date February 2014

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).

The February 2014 edition of Outside Magazine with Mancuso gracing the cover

The February 2014 edition of Outside Magazine with Mancuso gracing the cover

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.

Featured on the cover of Women Magazine, Mancuso shares her stories of inspiration.

Featured on the cover of Women Magazine, Mancuso shares her stories of inspiration.

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.