Ski great Julia Mancuso retires after Cortina downhill, takes goodbye lap
CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, Italy (AP) — Four-time Olympic medalist Julia Mancuso retired from skiing after an emotional goodbye run in a World Cup downhill Friday.
The 33-year-old Mancuso came down the Olympia delle Tofane course casually in a Wonder Woman suit with a red cape tied around her neck.
“I felt like the crazier I would dress, the better and easier and less I would be emotional and cry,” Mancuso said. “I had to pull out the super powers for today.”
Mancuso was greeted in the finish area by Lindsey Vonn and other American teammates who sprayed her with champagne.
“It’s an emotional time because it’s been such a big part of my life and I’m so grateful for that,” Mancuso said. “It’s been amazing to still have my biggest competitor and compatriot on the road still, competing with Lindsey. All of my friends are here and healthy and that’s really nice.”
Slowed by persistent hip problems, Mancuso did not qualify for next month’s Pyeongchang Olympics but will still go to South Korea as part of NBC’s broadcast team.
Mancuso has battled hip issues throughout her career and missed two full seasons of competition following surgery after the 2014-15 season. She returned to competition last month but only completed three races — finishing outside the top 30 on each occasion.
“It’s always been something looming in the back of my mind — what would be my cutoff to really decide,” Mancuso said. “I was looking forward to coming here and the downhill and really proving that I had what it took to make the combined team for the Olympics. It all happened really fast.
“It was really emotional after the first training run because it kind of hit me then that this was going to be too hard for my body.”
Mancuso won gold in giant slalom at the 2006 Turin Games, silver in downhill and combined at the 2010 Vancouver Games and bronze in combined at the 2014 Sochi Games — a haul that makes her the most decorated American female skier in Olympic history.
Known for excelling at big events, Mancuso also collected five medals at world championships and won seven World Cup races.
— U.S. Ski & Snowboard Team (@usskiteam) January 19, 2018
Vonn was also moved to tears by Mancuso’s retirement. The pair of racers have competed against each other since they were 9.
“It’s sad. She’s not there anymore. It makes me realize how long we’ve been doing this,” Vonn said. “I think we’re both reached this position because we pushed each other.”
Ending her career in Cortina takes Mancuso full circle since the Italian resort was where she earned her first World Cup podium result in 2006 by finishing second in a super-G.
“I’m really happy I got to do that and create another really special memory in Cortina,” Mancuso said.
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