Julia Mancuso – A Bright Star
Julia Mancuso is an American alpine skier and Olympic Gold Medalist, having been the winner of the giant slalom at the 2006 Winter Olympics. Born on 9 March 1984 in Reno, Nevada, Julia is the second of three daughters and, with being raised in Tahoe, she considers herself to be a true California girl. Her parents have a great love for sports, nature and outdoor life, which has rubbed off on their three daughters. Up until Julia was six years old, the family split their time between Squaw Valley Ski Resort and Kauai, Hawaii, with the result being that Julia learned to love the vastly different climates equally.
By the time Julia was three years old, she was already snow skiing, following in her older sister’s footsteps. When she was five, she was a regular participant in the Squaw’s Mighty Might program for snow skiing. Julia started racing at the age of seven and made it her goal to compete in the Olympics. At the age of 15, she made her debut at Copper Mountain, Colorado on 20 November 1999 and went on to score her first World Cup points during the 2000-2001 snow skiing season. Her successes at the Junior World Championships in 2002, 2003 and 2004 saw her walking away with eight medals – five of them gold. During the 2004-2005 World Cup snow skiing season, Julie climbed from 55th place to 9th place overall, going on to win two bronze medals at the 2005 World Championships.
Julia Mancuso’s 2006 Winter Olympics gold medal achievement came as a surprise to many, considering she had never finished higher than second place in a World Cup race. Her gold medal win, achieved despite severe pain in her right knee, launched her to stardom. She finished eighth place in the 2005-2006 World Cup season, bagging podium wins in three races, although she was still experiencing pain in her right knee. The pain was traced to hip dysplasia, and Julia underwent arthroscopic surgery on her hip where surgeons removed an inch-long bone spur from the ball of the joint – the pain-causing culprit was finally sorted out.
The 2006-2007 snow skiing season started off slowly for Julia as she worked her way back to racing form, but picked up speed as she won her first World Cup race on 19 December 2006. This was followed by numerous successes, and Julia finished the season in third place overall and second place in both downhill skiing and combined discipline standings.
Julia has been fondly nicknamed “Super Jules” by her fans and her teammates of the U.S. Ski Team. Her sense of fun is evident by the plastic tiara that she wore over her helmet during a number of races, after receiving it as a good-luck token from her coach in 2005. A ski run at Squaw Valley Ski Resort was renamed “Julia’s Gold” in honor of her Olympic gold medal win. Showing that she is cognizant of deteriorating conditions in the world, Julia is a strong supporter of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) whose mission is to stop the degradation of our planet’s natural environment and actively build a future in which humans will live in harmony with nature. She also supports “Right to Play”, an international humanitarian organization for the benefit of disadvantaged children.
It is clear that Julia Mancuso’s star is burning bright and she is enjoying every moment of it. There is no doubt that her love for snow skiing is going to take her even further – with loyal fans supporting her all the way.