Julia Mancuso narrows focus in comeback

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PARK CITY, Utah — Julia Mancuso‘s Olympic gold medal came in giant slalom, but she may have raced her last GS.

The four-time Olympic medalist plans to compete in December for the first time since March 2015. Hip surgery kept her out the last two seasons.

She will skip the first three World Cup stops in October and November — a giant slalom in Soelden, Austria; a slalom in Levi, Finland; and a giant slalom and slalom in Killington Vt.

Mancuso, who is in her final Olympic run-up and maybe her final season, will debut with speed races (downhill, super-G) in Lake Louise, Alberta, the first weekend in December.

The 33-year-old from Squaw Valley, Calif., needs that extra preparation time. She’s not ready to race full courses with timing yet.

“I’m definitely far off the pace, but every day gets better,” she said at a U.S. Olympic Committee media summit in Park City, site of her first Olympics in 2002 at age 17. “I’m still getting comfortable.

“The good thing is, when you’re far behind it’s easy to get close really fast.”

Mancuso nearly returned last season. She was a World Cup forerunner and was named to the world championships team but never officially raced.

She originally had designs on returning to not only the speed events, but also giant slalom. That’s now in question.

“I wanted to do it, but I started training [giant slalom], and it’s really hard on my body,” said Mancuso, who surprised to win the 2006 Olympic GS without having won a prior World Cup or world championships race. “So I’m not sure if I’ll be able to.”

Mancuso’s recent success has come in downhill, super-G and the super combined, including her six Olympic and world medals since 2007.

Her last World Cup giant slalom podium came in 2011.

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