If you think alpine skier Julia Mancuso is better than you because she’s an Olympic gold medalist, then you’d be wrong. She’s better than you in more ways than just one. As if being a three-time Olympian and four-time medalist isn’t impressive enough, this Nevada native has beauty and brains to boot. We chat with the natural-born adventurer and social media maven about living life to the fullest on and off the slopes.
THE RED BULLETIN: Where does your desire for adventure come from?
JULIA MANCUSO: My parents were definitely the ones who kept me busy from dusk ’til dawn. I think that’s why I have so much energy. I grew up getting fueled by activity and never being afraid to try something new. It didn’t stop in my childhood either. I took my mom heli-skiing for mother’s day this year! They both still inspire and push me to learn new things.
Does being adventurous make you a better all-round athlete?
Skiing is such a dynamic sport. It’s always changing, and I think it’s hard to prove what is the very best workout to win a race. It’s not like the 400-meter sprint where you can judge based on time and explosiveness. Skiing is about having good body awareness. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that surfing makes me a better skier, but I can learn a lot from surfing that I can apply to my skiing, especially when it comes to mental training. I think getting a little bit of adrenaline from other sports helps me minimize my nerves at the start gate.
You like to freedive, too. Do you enjoy being on the verge of passing out?
You just have to find the fun in everything. Embrace new feelings, even when they aren’t comfortable. It will pass. That’s something I have become much more comfortable with from free diving. Going through a maximum breath hold and getting diaphragm contractions is no fun at all. But it’s fun learning what your body can handle after you finish. Since my surgery [Mancuso underwent hip surgery last November], I haven’t been able to really get my heart rate up. When I started doing some bike intervals, it was the worst feeling—like wanting to throw up on the bike! But I just thought it was fun!
Many of these experiences are shared with your thousands of followers on social media and your blog. What’s in it for you?
I think blogging is all about letting fans into your life a little. It’s the connection between rooting for you as an athlete and being inspired as a person as well. I hope to inspire individuals to follow their dreams and not let judgment of others have an impact on anything you do. I think it’s so important to live life in a way that you never have any regrets. My main philosophy is to inspire.
You’re a big believer in the spiritual journey of life and success. What does that mean for you exactly?
In any relationship, whether it’s with a person or an activity, it can never be about the outcome—it’s about what you are doing in the moment. For ski racing, it’s always about perfecting my turns and how it feels. It’s not about the ranking. You can’t control what others are doing so you really have to do it for yourself.
Spirituality is a big part of my life because I believe in making yourself truly happy before you can contribute to others’ happiness. I ski the best when I leave the start gate with a smile. Being out in nature is the time that you can really be free. You can put your phone away, which in this day and age can be so tough, and really live in the moment.
When you’re not out in nature, what’s your ideal night out?
My ideal night out is all about the food. I love dinner at an amazing restaurant with great friends and an outstanding bottle of wine and craft cocktails. It’s fun to have a long dinner and then head home. I don’t hit the nightclubs too often, but I do love dancing. Other than that, my weekend is spent outside. I love to ride bikes and surf. Riding a cruiser bike on the beach or around town is my most favorite thing to do in the world.
You’re 32, look 25 and have the wisdom of a 90-year-old. What’s the secret?
Oh, geez! There isn’t much of a secret. I think reducing stress plays a major part. Whether it’s environmental stress or mental stress, we can always do better. I try to focus on what’s important, and to me, that’s happiness. I never dwell on anything. I try to learn from mistakes and move on. We only get one life, and there is no point spending any time on worrying or thinking about stuff that doesn’t make you happy. And, of course, I always wear sunscreen!