Julia Mancuso

Julia Mancuso skis final race dressed as Wonder Woman (video)

Leave a comment

Julia Mancuso bid farewell like only she could — with a tiara, cape and Wonder Woman suit.

The most decorated female U.S. Olympic skier with four medals announced Friday morning that today’s World Cup downhill in Cortina d’Ampezzo would be the last race of her career.

More on Mancuso’s retirement, career and immediate future here.

She raced Friday as her nickname — “Super Jules” — and coasted to the bottom 18 seconds slower than winner Sofia Goggia.

“I felt like the crazier I would dress, the less I would be emotional and cry,” Mancuso said, according to The Associated Press. “I had to pull out the super powers for today.”

Afterward, U.S. Ski Team members sprayed her with champagne and lifted her up in the finish corral.

Mancuso chose an appropriate venue for her last race.

She notched her first World Cup podium in Cortina in January 2006, then won the Olympic giant slalom in Sestriere, Italy, four weeks later.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Mikaela Shiffrin’s dominance rarely seen in sports, let alone skiing

[twitter-follow screen_name=’nzaccardi’ show_count=’yes’ text_color=’00ccff’]

Julia Mancuso retires, joins NBC Olympics for PyeongChang

Leave a comment

Julia Mancuso, the most decorated female U.S. Olympic skier with four medals, ended her bid for a record fifth Olympics and is retiring after a victory lap in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, on Friday.

Mancuso, 33, could not fully come back from right hip surgery that kept her out the previous two full seasons.

She raced three times this season without cracking the top 40.

Mancuso would have had one last chance to prove she deserved a PyeongChang Olympic place at a World Cup stop in Cortina this weekend.

Instead, she’s calling it a career now.

She will still go to PyeongChang, as a reporter for NBC Olympics and for “The Olympic Zone,” the nightly 30-minute show that airs on NBC affiliates.

“It has been an epic battle with my hip injury, and the past three years I have put everything into returning to competition at the highest level and the goal to reach my fifth Olympic Games,” Mancuso said in a U.S. Ski & Snowboard press release. “There have been really promising days during this challenging process, and I have kept my spirits up despite many who questioned or doubted me. Sadly, I haven’t found the progression to compete with the best in the world again, but I’m proud to have fought until the very end. It is with a heavy heart that I say goodbye to ski racing, but I do so with a full heart.”

Mancuso made her name as a big-event racer.

She reached 36 podiums in 398 World Cup starts (nine percent) but earned nine medals in 40 Olympic and world championships starts (23 percent).

“I don’t think that I was ever looked at as the favorite,” Mancuso said.

No upset win was bigger than the 2006 Olympic giant slalom in Sestriere, Italy.

Mancuso battled driving snow and poor visibility to take gold, having never before won a World Cup or world championships race (but with five world junior titles and two 2005 World bronze medals). She stayed up late the previous night watching women’s figure skating on TV while eating Pop Tarts.

At the medal ceremony, the free spirit donned a plastic tiara, a gift presented by coaches at a team dinner. She also wore the tiara in place of a helmet for a slalom run in the combined event.

“Oh my God, I just won the Olympics,” Mancuso told teammate Stacey Cook immediately after winning, reportedly adding to media an hour later as Olympic champion, “You can’t imagine how weird it is to say that out loud.”

Mancuso had some lean seasons on the World Cup in the next two Olympic cycles, yet surprised for downhill and super combined silver medals in 2010 and another super combined bronze in 2014.

Mancuso, along with Lindsey VonnBode Miller and Ted Ligety, was part of a golden generation of U.S. Alpine skiing. At least one of the four won a medal at every Olympics and world championships since 2002.

Now Miller and Mancuso have retired, and Vonn and Ligety are likely going to their last Olympics in PyeongChang.

Vonn, who skied with Mancuso since they were 9 years old, was in tears saying goodbye to her longtime (and not always friendly) rival.

“She’s not there anymore,” said Vonn, who finished second in Friday’s race. “It makes me realize how long we’ve been doing this, and how many great memories we have together. I honestly think that we’re both in the position that we’re in because we were growing up together, because we pushed each other. We weren’t always the best of friends. We’re very different. We’re exact opposites. She’s like free, let’s go surfing. I’m like hardcore, always focused all the time. We haven’t always been very close, but because of each other, because we were on the team together, because we pushed each other, we both achieved a level of success that I don’t think we would have had without each other. I have a lot of my career to thank for Julia. I am very sad to see her go.”

Mancuso bid this year to join cross-country skier Kikkan Randall and (very likely) snowboarder Kelly Clark as the first U.S. woman to compete in five Winter Olympics.

Mancuso also would have been the second-oldest U.S. Olympic Alpine skier ever after Miller, the only American skier with more Olympic medals than Mancuso’s four.

Hip problems resulting from a birth condition kept that from happening.

Mancuso has hip dysplasia, a misalignment of bones that causes the joint to deteriorate faster than normal.

When Mancuso was 18 years old, a doctor said she needed to choose between ski racing (Mancuso had already been to an Olympics at age 17 in 2002) or living a healthy life.

“I left crying and never went back to that doctor,” she said.

Mancuso underwent surgery after that 2006 Olympic title. The pain returned and, by 2015, became unbearable.

She underwent another hip surgery, this one much more complicated. The operation fixed cartilage damage, cleaned up bone spurs and put more anchors in her labrum because of a slight tear with doctors warning that her hip would probably be 90 percent of what it was, according to The Associated Press.

Mancuso spent six months on crutches. She hoped to return to racing last season but was limited to being a forerunner.

Again, this season, she delayed her comeback and never was able to race at the level she wanted.

“It’s really hard for me to walk normally,” Mancuso said in April. “A lot of people ask me why I’m doing it [skiing], because I can’t even walk. Why would I ski? The truth is, skiing is way easier. Skiing is fun because it is easy, and my body loves it. My body loves to ski, and my body needs to ski. … It improves my quality of life.”

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: In Captain America suit, Vonn finally ready to attack

[twitter-follow screen_name=’nzaccardi’ show_count=’yes’ text_color=’00ccff’]

View this post on Instagram

Today will be my last race. I have lots of fun photos, and I'm sure there will plenty more today (watch the race!) bib 31 🙂 but I think this one says it all. I stood proud and tall in this years Olympic Uniform. I believed anything would be possible, and this journey shooting for the moon, left me with many bright stars. 💫 so here you go! It has been an epic battle with my hip injury, and the past 3 years I have put everything into returning to competition at the highest level and the goal to reach my 5th olympics. There have been really promising days during this challenging process and I have kept my spirits up despite many who questioned and doubted me. Sadly I haven’t found the progression to compete with the best in world again but I’m proud to have fought until the very end. It is with a heavy heart I have to say goodbye to ski racing, but I do so also with a very Full heart. I'm so grateful for all of the incredible opportunities I've been provided and the amazing friendships I've formed along the way. Thank you to my family, sponsors and my team for believing in me, my doctors, fans and especially my husband who has supported me through these difficult times. I'm happy that I get to ski my last race here in Cortina – one of my favorite stops on tour. I had my first podium here, and now I get to say farewell. I’m excited to see where skiing and life’s adventure will take me next! Thank you @spyderactive @pocsports @stockli_1935 @kttape @gopro @squawalpine @swix_sport @lesserevilsnacks @hiballenergy @usskiteam @lange_boots

A post shared by Julia Mancuso (@juliamancuso) on

Lindsey Vonn injured in World Cup super-G (video)

16 Comments

ST. MORITZ, Switzerland (AP) — Lindsey Vonn finished a World Cup super-G in extreme pain Saturday and was treated by race doctors for a back injury.

The American star crossed the finish line in obvious distress, in 24th place and 1.56 seconds behind the winner, and slumped to the snow. She compressed her back on the fifth gate, according to U.S. Ski & Snowboard.

Vonn stayed in the finish house to be treated, and one hour later limped slowly into a waiting car to be driven from the St. Moritz course.

“Our U.S. Ski Team doctor checked me out and no imaging is needed,” was posted on Vonn’s social media. “Just need the joint and the muscles to calm down so I can move again.”

In a race interrupted several times by gusting crosswinds, Vonn wore the No. 4 bib and was left standing at the start gate during the first delay of about three minutes. She stayed warm with a thick jacket draped on her shoulders.

The surprise winner was Jasmine Flury of Switzerland, who had a career-best World Cup finish of fifth before Saturday.

MORE: Full results | Alpine season TV schedule

Starting No. 14, Flury raced down in bright sunshine and calm conditions to be one tenth of a second faster than teammate Michelle Gisin, who wore start bib No. 12.

Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein was third, .16 behind Flury. Weirather won the super-G last Sunday at Lake Louise, Canada, where Flury was seventh.

Mikaela Shiffrin, who won a downhill Saturday, was 20th. Julia Mancuso, racing this weekend for the first time since March 2015, skied out about 15 seconds into her run.

Before getting into her car, Vonn stopped to congratulate Flury standing in the leader’s box.

The hood of Vonn’s U.S. team jacket was up to shield her face from TV cameras tracking her departure.

On the hill where she was injured at the world championships in February, Swiss star Lara Gut crashed into course-side netting after seeming to lose balance in the cross wind.

She appeared unhurt and later said on social media she planned to race Sunday’s super-G.

A super combined — to make up for Friday’s canceled race — has also been scheduled for Sunday, adding a slalom run after the super-G and combining the times, according to NBC Sports’ Steve Porino.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Lindsey Vonn explains uniquely placed tattoos

[twitter-follow screen_name=’nbcolympictalk’ show_count=’yes’ text_color=’00ccff’]

St. Moritz Super-G
1. Jasmine Flury (SUI) — 1:02.59
2. Michelle Gisin (SUI) — +.10
3. Tina Weirather (LIE) — +.16
20. Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) — +1.37
24. Lindsey Vonn (USA) — +1.56
29. Breezy Johnson (USA) — +1.94
30. Laurenne Ross (USA) — +1.98
35. Patricia Mangan (USA) — +2.23
45. Stacey Cook (USA) — +2.94
49. Alice Merryweather (USA) — +3.65
DNF. Julia Mancuso (USA)
DNF. Alice McKennis (USA)
DNF. Jacqueline Wiles (USA)