Julia Mancuso Wins 4th Olympic Alpine Medal

Julia Mancuso 4th medal

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — For years, Julia Mancuso’s skiing accomplishments — and there were many — were overshadowed by Lindsey Vonn’s.

When it comes to Olympic Alpine events, though, no American woman comes close.

Turning in a terrific run to lead after the downhill, then recovering from a rattling start in the slalom, Mancuso earned the bronze in the super-combined at the Sochi Games on Monday for her fourth medal at an Olympics. She already was the only U.S. female Alpine racer with more than two, which is Vonn’s total.

“Skiing and growing up with someone like Lindsey, who’s just amazing on the World Cup and breaking records left and right there — to have something that I can break records in at the same time is also fun and exciting for me,” said Mancuso, whose two-run time of 2 minutes, 35.15 seconds was 0.53 slower than champion Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany.

“If I can keep the Olympics as my thing, that’s fine,” Mancuso said, “and I’m really proud of it.”

It sure showed Monday, the way she punched the air and screamed for joy after the slalom, did a jig on her step of the podium during the flower ceremony, then ran around with a U.S. flag, hugging family members.

She won the gold in the giant slalom at the 2006 Turin Games, then silvers in the super-combined and downhill at Vancouver in 2010. Only two other Winter Olympians from the U.S., speedskater Bonnie Blair and short track star Apolo Anton Ohno, have won individual medals at three editions of the games.

“She is everything you want your athletes to be,” said Bill Marolt, CEO of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association. “She brings herself to her best possible level of preparation and puts it all out there.”

Only four women from anywhere own more Alpine medals than Mancuso, who can increase her total over the next two weeks, starting with Wednesday’s downhill. The record of six is shared by Croatia’s Janica Kostelic and Sweden’s Anja Paerson.

The 29-year-old Mancuso, who grew up in Squaw Valley, Calif., was asked what’s different about her when she’s in an Olympic start hut.

“I feel more nervous. It’s not nerves of failure, it’s just nerves,” she explained. “There’s just a lot of emotion and knowing that, ‘This is my chance. This is my shot.'”

At the 2010 Olympics, Vonn edged Mancuso in the downhill and added a bronze in the super-G. But because of recent knee surgery, Vonn is back in the U.S. this time around, commentating for NBC instead of competing.

While Vonn’s resume includes 59 World Cup race victories and four overall titles, Mancuso’s never enjoyed that sort of success. Mancuso has seven career World Cup wins, and really struggled this season, never better than seventh.

There were problems figuring which boots to use. There was the potential for a real crisis of confidence.

In December, she took time off to gather herself with an eye to the Olympics.

“You definitely start to doubt things, for sure. … The best thing we could have done is take a break for Christmas and New Year and then get back into it,” said Chris Knight, Mancuso’s personal coach on the U.S. team. “It was like pressing the reset button for her, and it has worked.”

Knight, who’s from New Zealand, also offered a theory for why Mancuso thrives at the Winter Games.

“She loves peaking for the big events. I mean, America doesn’t know what’s going on outside of the Olympics, right?” he said.

After Mancuso’s strong downhill Monday morning gave her a nearly half-second lead on the field, she still had to deal with a steep slalom course, one that nine of 31 starters failed to complete in the afternoon. No small matter, given that it had been more than a year since she completed a full slalom.

And the last time she raced such a challenging slalom?

“It’s been a while,” U.S. women’s coach Alex Hoedlmoser said with a laugh.

But with the lights along the Rosa Khutor course gleaming off her neon orange helmet, and a gold scarf tucked under her chin, Mancuso was good enough to sneak into the medals, 0.13 behind silver winner Nicole Hosp of Austria, and 0.10 ahead of fourth-place finisher Tina Maze of Slovenia, last season’s overall World Cup champion.

“It’s really inspiring,” U.S. teammate Leanne Smith said, “for everyone here to see how much of a gamer she is, every Olympics.”


AP Sports Writers Andrew Dampf and Pat Graham contributed to this report.


Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich
Photo by: (AP Photo/Gero Breloer)

Ad Watch: Kids 2012 – P&G London Olympic Games

Proctor & Gamble continues to produce great work in their “Thank You, Mom” campaign. Their most recent ad for the 2012 London Olympic Games features Olympic athletes their a mom’s point of view. To Moms, they will always be their kids. It’s an excellent approach and one we applaud.

Join P&G in saying “Thank you, Mom” by sending your mom a message of thanks at: http://Facebook.com/ThankYouMom. You can also follow the campaign on twitter.

– Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG), a Worldwide Olympic Partner and the company behind brands like Pampers®, Gillette® and Pantene®, today debuted “Kids,” the second advertisement in their global P&G Thank You Mom campaign series. “Kids” was launched simultaneously around the world today online, in advance of making its TV premiere during the Opening Ceremony. Click to watch: http://youtu.be/zRaQRbAxXaA

“Tomorrow marks the opening of the Olympic Village. The teams have all been chosen and, with just two weeks to go until the London 2012 Games, ten thousand athletes around the world are gearing up for the biggest competitions of their lives. The years of training and dedication will end in triumph for the best of the best,” said Marc Pritchard, P&G Global Brand Building Officer. “P&G is proud to be sponsoring 150 of these remarkable athletes through our brands. In addition, we’re also honoring the people who helped them on their journey to London – their moms – through our Thank You Mom campaign.”

The launch of “Kids” builds on the success of the other videos in P&G’s Olympic Games campaign. The “Best Job” film http://www.youtube.com/user/ProcterGamble/featured?v=NScs_qX2Okk and the “Raising an Olympian” series https://www.facebook.com/thankyoumom/app_351225601603842 have already garnered more than 26 million views since P&G launched the Thank You Mom campaign in April.

“We know from talking to moms of Olympians, that even though their children have grown into world-class athletes, they will always see them as little kids,” said Pritchard. “This insight serves as the inspiration behind our “Kids” spot, which we’re proud to unveil today, as the world is turning its attention to the athletes of London 2012.”

P&G recruited award-winning director Daniel Kleinman, named Adweek’s director of the decade in the “Best of the 2000s” feature, to create the spot.  Kleinman’s storytelling gives the viewer a unique perspective on the Olympic athletes through the eyes of their moms. The piece depicts seven different Olympic Games events, featuring approximately 245 kids from 16 different countries. The spot was filmed in the US and Great Britain and it will run online, in social media, TV and print.

“As I watched this commercial for the first time, it brought back so many memories of watching Ryan as a kid climbing onto the starting blocks,” said Ileana Lochte, mom of Olympian and three-time gold medalist Ryan Lochte. “Even now as I watch him compete, I always see him as my little boy.”

P&G’s Thank You Mom campaign kicked off in April and is coming to life through a variety of media channels and in-store with a worldwide retailer program that runs through August.  Olympic Games-themed P&G branded products are being featured in four million of stores across the globe.  As a part of the P&G Thank You Mom promotion, P&G has committed to raise $5 million to support local youth sports programs in many countries, through a portion of sales and donations from the company’s leadership brands including Pampers®, Tide®, Gillette® and Pantene®.

To make it easy for people to join in the Thank You Mom campaign, P&G also launched the “Thank You Mom app” that allows people to thank their own moms by uploading personalized content in the form of a video, still image with caption or text-based message. Users will then be able to encourage friends and family to do the same, spreading the word to thank and celebrate moms. To share your own Thank You Mom message, please visit http://www.facebook.com/thankyoumom/app_355982491091876.

To follow news and updates on the entire Thank You Mom campaign, consumers can visit and “like” www.facebook.com/thankyoumom.

For a full list of assets and information related to the P&G Thank You Mom campaign, including photos and video, visit www.PGThankYouMomMediaCenter.com.

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About P&GP&G touches and improves the lives of about 4.4 billion people around the world with its portfolio of trusted, quality brands. The Company’s leadership brands include Pampers®, Tide®, Ariel®, Always®, Whisper®, Pantene®, Mach3®, Bounty®, Dawn®, Fairy®, Gain®, Pringles®, Charmin®, Downy®, Lenor®, Iams®, Crest®, Oral-B®, Duracell®, Olay®, Head & Shoulders®, Wella®, Gillette®, Braun®, Fusion®, Ace®, Febreze®, and Ambi Pur®. With operations in about 80 countries, P&G brands are available in more than 180 countries worldwide. Please visit pg.com for the latest news and in-depth information about P&G and its brands.

Photos provided by P&G

Disclaimer: Reader discretion advised, please consult your physician before beginning any exercise or diet program.