Interview: Julia Mancuso Is America’s Great Olympian Slope Hope

It’s all downhill for the skiing champ.

With an Olympic gold and two silvers already on her mantel, alpine skier Julia Mancuso is stoked to bring home more medals for Team U.S.A. We caught up with her before she busts out of the gates in Sochi.

How are the slopes over there?

I heard a lot of stuff about the place not being ready for the events, but the mountains are really cool. It actually reminds me of home [Lake Tahoe]. There are a lot of very steep mountains here.

You’re competing in four events. Which is your best chance at gold?

My best event is Super-G. I’m competitive in all my events, but Super-G has been most consistent for me. Ironically, that’s one event I don’t have an Olympic medal in, but I’m really excited. I think I have a good shot.

How about the giant slalom? You took gold in 2006…

That’s funny, too, because giant slalom is the event I find most difficult to master. It’s high-speed and the technical aspect is intimidating.

Downhill is pretty epic. Some of us even remember the legendary Franz Klammer gold medal run from Innsbruck.

Downhill used to be more wide-open. Now there are more turns, and we’re still going the same speed and trying to keep control on the turns. I think athletes are stronger now, equipment’s better, and we’re just faster. Downhillers are going over 110 miles per hour. But no matter what, you can’t hit the fence at 100 miles per hour. One little mistake and you’re…well, you know, it’s not that sweet.

How do you get amped up for a run? Do you have any favorite jams?

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the Black Keys.

What do you do for fun when there aren’t any snowy mountains around?

Well, I work out a lot, but I like to do action sports. A lot of surfing, mountain-biking.

When you have days off from competing at the Olympics, what events do you like to check out?

A lot of times my friends are competing. I’m excited to watch slope style and halfpipe. And then, of course, when my events are done, I get to go to hockey, which is always entertaining. I also like figure skating. I think every girl grew up watching figure skating.

When the Games are over, do you guys cut loose? Hot-tub party at the ski lodge or something?

Yeah, it’s definitely part of our culture to celebrate and party.

Want to win a sweet ski trip to Lake Tahoe and meet Julia? Go to @ZICOCoconut on Instagram or @Zico on Twitter and post a pic showing your ski spirit or support of Julia using the hashtag #GoJulia. Too lazy? Just like Zico’s Facebook page and give them your info by February 28to enter.