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Mancuso predicting a good ski year

Paul Robbins Special to the Record

Park City Winter Sports School grad Julia Mancuso is back in town, grabbing some down time with her mom before the double medal-winner from the 2005 alpine World Championships wades back into the international ski racing arena.

While the men resume their World Cup schedule this week at Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies, the women’s tour gets another week off. Then things begin to heat up as they follow the men into Lake Louise and face two downhills and a super-G Dec. 2-4 before moving to Aspen, Colo., for the Sirius Satellite Radio Aspen Winternational Dec. 9-11 with its super-G, giant slalom and the first slalom of the winter.

"I’m gonna see my mom and enjoy the holiday," Mancuso said as she went through her final paces at Copper Mountain, Colo., where the U.S. women’s alpine squad was going through some super-G training. She also ran slalom and GS at Loveland Valley on the other side of the Continental Divide.

Mancuso, 24, is coming off a breakout winter. A year ago, Mancuso, who already holds the U.S. record for most medals at the World Junior Championships (eight – five gold, three bronze), earned her first two "varsity" medals, capturing bronze in super-G and Gs at Worlds. She then medaled in all five events at the Oroweat U.S. championships, giving her 11 consecutive national title races where she’s been on the podium.

She may not have climbed onto a World Cup podium yet, but she hung-up five top-5s last winter in addition to those two medals, and nobody is betting against Mancuso racing her first podium(s) this Olympic season.

She’s unconcerned about it. Everything has its time, she said in an interview. She doesn’t want to ignore the wrong ski selection, which hobbled her first run in the season opener (where she finished 21st in Soelden, Austria, back on Oct. 22) but she doesn’t want to over-react, either, especially since she had been cookin’ in training runs.

"I got something good out of it and I’m comfortable with my equipment now and where I’m skiing," she said. "I’m excited to get into the next race.

"It’s hard when you go from training where every run I’ve done has been really fast and then be slow in the race – and think I’m doing something wrong. It’s not something I need to over-think," said Mancuso, who came out of the fabled Squaw Valley racing program at Lake Tahoe.

One of the nine U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association athletes who help former VISA’s Team Torino, Mancuso is having fun doing an occasional Web blog for http://www.journeytotorino.com. She enjoys writing, enjoys expressing herself…and carries that one step farther by savoring occasional opportunities to paint.

"Blogs are fun. It’s cool. I like creative writing because it challenges me a little," she said. "I mostly try to write if there’s something significant going on; it’s fun because I like to write and I don’t get to write that much…

It’s fun to have my thoughts and then express them in words." Showing a wee bit of her competitive side, she smiled and pointed to fellow Squaw Valley racer Marco Sullivan’s blogs and added, "Marco gets a few more comments than I do, so I may have to…" She smiled again and didn’t finish the sentence.

Mancuso spent a nice chunk of the preseason with her dad on Maui, using his trainer as her personal trainer to boost her conditioning in between training camps.

After the Aspen races, the women head back to Europe for the rest of the season and Mancuso said she’s particularly looking forward to that because she, her older sister April and her best friend from childhood are going to be using a recreational vehicle to travel around the tour. It follows the pattern set a couple of years ago when Bode Miller decided to have a buddy drive and cook for him in their RV; he’s posted his best results since then, and it won’t be on the scale of the new touring bus Daron Rahlves will use in Europe

"I think it’s going to be more relaxing for me and I’m not going to have to worry about traveling with all this [equipment] all the time," she explained. "It’ll be fun but the focus still will be skiing, and I think I’m going to have a good year."


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