After long road back from surgery, skier Julia Mancuso chases one final Olympics
Special to The Aspen Times
Will this be Julia Mancuso’s last season?
“Yeah, I think so,” she says without missing a beat.
But just as quickly, she’s not letting go of her career.
“I mean I don’t know,” she continues. “It’s really hard. I don’t want to ever give up. And I’ve worked so hard to come back from this injury.”
Mancuso has faced an extraordinarily long road back from hip surgery in the last couple of years. Mancuso was born with hip dysplasia, a misalignment of the hip socket that causes the joint to wear out more quickly.
After having a hip surgery in 2006, she underwent a second surgery in 2015 by Dr. Marc Philippon at the Steadman Clinic in Vail. The latest surgery was more extensive than anticipated, including fixing cartilage damage, and she spent six months on crutches.
She stayed sidelined through the end of the 2016-17 season, including sitting out World Cup races at her home mountain of Squaw Valley, California.
“It’s hard to say that I’m going to stop at any time because I just want to make it back to where I was,” she said. “And if I ever find that that’s not going to be possible, then I’ll re-evaluate.”
Mancuso, 33, will face tough competition earning a spot in the 2018 Olympics, which would be a record for the number of appearances — five — for an American woman in the Winter Olympics. Her first appearance was at the Salt Lake City Games in 2002. She won gold in the giant slalom in 2006 in Torino, silver in both downhill and combined in 2010 in Vancouver and bronze in combined in 2014 in Sochi.
“Having an injury makes the drive even stronger,” she said. “And the good thing is I don’t have fear. I’ve been able to go out on the snow and I still want to go fast.”
With nine championship and Olympic medals — the same amount as Lindsey Vonn — Mancuso is known as a big-race skier. She’s hoping for one more magical Olympics.
“The Olympics are interesting because there are so many athletes that have been great at their sport, but they don’t perform at the Olympics,” she said. “Then there are athletes that just surprise you when they get to the Olympics, and they end up shining.”
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