Party On--An Interview with Julia Mancuso

Julia: There hasn't been as much hype as you might think. I don't feel I've reached any type of superstar status. Except while I was traveling in Austria, I have not been really that recognizable. But the Austrians...they're nuts! I really can't go anywhere in public over there, or I get overwhelmed with autograph requests and attention. Skiing means a bit more to them.

Fro: Since winning gold what are some of the requests asked of you? For example, has anybody proposed to you yet?

Julia: (Laughing) No one has proposed to me, but I now receive about 40 pieces of fan mail a week. It's tough to answer it all, but I do try to write back, especially to people in the United States. I like spreading the word about skiing and making people feel special.

Fro: You now have an agent, Lowell Taub out of Manhattan. What kind of deals are you both looking at?

Julia: I met Lowell at a media reception and was very impressed with his honesty. He's Summer Sanders' agent. Lowell wants to help me with what I want, not change me into someone I'm not. Winning the gold can be a door to other things, but frankly, I don't know what I want except to be a good role model for girls involved in sports.

I guess I need to figure out what my image should be. I admit I've always dreamed of designing a clothing line. Rossignol recently bought Quicksilver so maybe there's a possibility. But for the moment I'm just happy to be able to finally buy some nice clothing.

Fro: Winning the gold and all your national titles has to be intoxicating. How do you keep your feet planted on the ground and not let your ego soar towards the galaxy?

Julia: My family, especially my sisters, take care of that. My sister April doesn't cut me much slack. I came back to Palisades Tahoe and I'm no big deal here. Everyone's more concerned about who got the first chair on KT-22 or who skied which chute on a given day.

Fro: You appear to be very genuine. Wearing the tiara and the way you presented yourself to the media was very endearing. Was there anything your parents or a coach always preached to you?

Julia: Actually, I was always sort of a brat. Maybe that's genuine and honest because I don't deny it. I was never one to sugar coat my feelings. Now, however, I try to be very nice. Maybe I've grown up a bit.

Fro: Steve McKinney once said that a person needs to be cocky enough to be good, and good enough to be cocky. How much ego is involved in ski racing?

Julia: I do not put much emphasis on strutting around, talking smack, or boasting. There are 15 to 30 other skiers out there on race days that have the ability to win. What's given me the most confidence is picturing myself skiing at Palisades Tahoe. Since I was a child I've free-skied stuff like few other women on the World Cup. They're good in the gates, but I've found my confidence outside the gates. When I was eight years old I was skiing KT's Portal, Hole in the Wall, and the Fingers' Pinky Chute with friends. That's cool.

Fro: Steve Mahre always wore red socks in slalom. Phil always puts his left boot on first. Do you have any superstitions or good luck charms?

Julia: I pick a good luck charm every day. Sometimes a flower, hair tie or braid. There used to be the joke that I always wore special good-luck "Super Jules" underwear that I had painted on with my own design and never washed. But it's just a long-standing joke.

Fro: Do you have any special stories about being at the Torino Olympics, especially after winning the Giant Slalom?

Julia: Well, I forgot my credential the day of the GS! I'd become friendly with a security guy at the entrance to the stadium, and he let me through. My sister, April, went back to my RV and got the stuff for me.

Another story: The evening of my win we tried to go big, but after getting scooped up to do interviews and attending the awards ceremony, it was 1 am. I was with about ten friends. We ended up having drinks with the men's curling team, which had just won the silver. It was great, but I was tired. And I have to admit that those curlers definitely know how to party!

Fro: Is there any one thing that you take on the road with you?

Julia: It's called "The Stick." It's this little stick with rollers attached that I use for massage. I use it before every race. It's supposed to increase energy and get the pistons firing. It's my number one routine on the road.

Fro: In some ways being so successful at such a young age may be a challenge. It may become hard to live up to, if not top, such a performance as your gold medal.

Julia: I don't look at it that way at all. Winning the gold is now on my list of accomplishments. My career had already had peak moments. I believe I'll continue to be a better skier, more prepared both on slope and in life. Anyway, it's not just about winning medals and races. Competing --all the training, all the friendships--is really about the journey and the experience.

Fro: Are you going to go down the path of Moseley and other past Palisades Tahoe ski champions and promote another ski area because you get offered a bunch of money?

Julia: I have been offered chances to do stuff with other areas, but I'd really rather ski at Palisades Tahoe. Ski Corp gave me a lifetime pass and that's good enough for me. I can't imagine living at another ski area. This is where I learned to ski. It's where my closest friends live. It's my hometown hill.

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Background on Julia
Palisades Tahoe's trail map continues to change. In 1998, the former Olympic resort honored Nagano freestyle gold medalist and hometown hero, Jonny Moseley, by renaming a double diamond slope off peak KT-22, "Moseley's."

Saturday, April 15th, the high alpine ski area resort threw a party for Newly crowned Olympic giant slalom champion, Julia Mancuso. Mancuso, 21, America's alpine princess in Sestriere, Italy, grew up in Palisades Tahoe. She began her race career at age three in Palisades Tahoe's junior ski program, the Mighty Mites.

Mancuso started World Cup racing and was a NorAm champion at 16, competed in the Olympics at 17, had set a U.S. mark for Junior World Championships before she was out of her teens. She started her twenties by establishing a record for the most consecutive U.S. championships.

Her breakout season was in 2004/05 when she became the first U.S. woman since Picabo Street (in 1996) to grab two medals at the World Championships and five top-5 World Cup results. Mancuso scored in all five disciplines, including combined.

None of her results, or notoriety from wearing a costume jewel tiara rather than helmet in slalom races, would compare to her stunning upset and win at the Torino Olympics this year. There she earned gold with an incredible .67-second margin over her nearest competitor

During the "Welcome Home" ceremony in April, Mancuso received a lifetime pass from Ski Corp President Nancy Cushing plus gifts from resort village businesses. Palisades Tahoe renamed an upper portion of terrain accessed from its lower mountain Exhibition lift, "Julia's Gold."

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