Last summer, multi-medal-winning Olympian Julia Mancuso was prepping hard for the Sochi Olympics, hoping to add more hardware to her collection. Her days ran like Excel sheets: each dialed to the hour, with most of those hours involving a workout. Her training paid off, and she came away with a bronze in the combined, making her the most decorated American female alpine skier in Olympic history. This ‘off-season,’ though, she’s taking a different approach.
“Because of the stress of the Olympics, this summer is more relaxed for me. I’ve decided to just do what feels good for myself,” she says.
Not that she’s slacking. Here’s how Mancuso enjoys summer—all the while staying in tip-top shape.
She Swears By 2 Hours of Pilates
Mancuso has swapped out her usual heavy-lifting routines, which are typical for elite-level skiers, in favor of 120 minutes of Pilates a day (wow). “It’s neuro-kinetic Pilates, and we keep it really specific to skiing,” she says. “I have a hip issue, and I’m taking it easy on the activities that are hard on my back and hips. It’s a lot smarter.” Her favorite exercises involve the CoreAlign, a Pilates machine that helps improve posture in movement, with an intense focus on core strength.
She Enjoys Mother Nature
Summer fitness endeavors for this lady include involve surfing, diving, stand up paddleboarding, or long hikes in the mountains. Some days, she might do all of the above. “I still do beach workouts and rock running (read: the underwater kind)—the fun stuff,” she says. “It’s just, my days are more about where the wind takes me.” (We’re all for that.)
She Still Chases the Snow
Mancuso has already been on snow in Mt. Hood, OR, and is soon heading to New Zealand for a month. “We have a new coach (Stefan Abplanalp), and already I’ve made a lot of improvements at my last camp. I’ve been figuring out what I need to do on my skis as opposed to worrying about outside factors. I had a rough season last year, even though the Olympics went well.”
Mancuso is referring to the World Cup tour—the mainstay for ski racers. “The Olympics and World Championships (which occur biannually) are more of a bonus; it’s still all about the day-to-day, and establishing yourself out there,” she says. “World Cups are huge part of our competition, and with ski racing, where you start makes such a difference. If you’re ranked in the top 15, you can control your race start, and it’s really important to have that control. You have the same conditions (versus later-day ruts) and it makes it fairer. It’s also desperately important to keep the momentum going. Ski racing has one of the most difficult seasons in sports—from October through March.”
She's Picked Up a Hobby
Video! Mancuso recently started a series called, “I am Julia Mancuso,” and at the GoPro Athlete Summit in May, she won an award for making the best use of a GoPro template. She loves to travel for fun, and shoots virtually all her adventures, whether diving or surfing. Now, inspired by an arctic heli-skiing trip in Iceland for Warren Miller’s Ticket to Ride (2013), Mancuso wants to explore the world more as a skier. “I want to get creative. I’ve had adventures surfing, but haven’t been able to enjoy myself in the snow world,” she says.
Most of all, though, Mancuso’s very much in Hawaii right now. “Growing up in Tahoe gives you that passion for water,” she says wistfully. “All Tahoe people are used to being around water, whether that’s surfing behind the boat, swimming in the lake, or jumping off cliffs. Last summer was so focused on the Olympics, and now it’s like, ‘Oh wow, the beach looks nice.”
And it does.
“Right now, I’m just staring out the window at the water,” she continues. It’s 9:30 a.m., our interview’s over—and Mancuso’s off the phone and headed outside.