Ski champ Julia Mancuso hopes to shine at the Winter Olympics. Just don't ask to see her good luck charm...


Matt JonesEditor's note: On February 10, 2014, Julia Mancuso finished third in the super-combined (a two-part event consisting of downhill and slalom runs), to earn her fourth Olympic medal. Mancuso is the first American skier to win medals in three straight Olympic Games.

"Every Olympics has been different for me," says Julia Mancuso, the 29-year-old Alpine ski racer who won gold (in the giant slalom) at the 2006 Turin games—and is a favorite to rack up more hardware at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Julia was raised in Squaw Valley, Calif., where the norm was snow skiing in winter and waterskiing in summer, as evidenced by an Instagram pic of toddler Jules on waterskis. With three Olympics and three medals under her belt, she's no longer the underdog—she's the one to beat. "There's a lot more attention," she admits. "But I've always excelled under pressure, like, 'I wanna show you what I can do!'"

What do you do regularly to feel good about your body?

A lot of yoga and Pilates. I also like stretching. I always travel with a foam roller. What has helped me prevent injuries is being connected and having my body aligned. Every morning, I roll out and then work on my core and my balance.


Matt Jones Have you ever taken part in a fad diet or workout?

I did when I was younger. When the Zone diet came out, I was all about it—especially because I was becoming a woman and feeling chubby and uncomfortable in my body. I remember bringing cottage cheese and chicken breasts to lunch all the time, and now I'm like, "What was I thinking?" But fad workouts can be really fun. There's a month when we have a little time off, and that's when I experiment with workouts that "normal" folks do, like CrossFit.

Do you use fitness apps?

I do Nike Training Club, which is actually really hard and intense. I'm surprised every time I do it. I also use Map My Ride and Map My Run.

What's a go-to race-day meal?

I start my morning with a smoothie of powdered greens, whey protein and coconut water. I also have hard-boiled eggs, then I bring a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for the hill.

Do you listen to music to get pumped up before races?

I like to just listen to nature. I find music distracting—it takes me out of my head. What I love so much about skiing is the peacefulness. But I do love to listen to music when I'm training. Lately it's Lorde, The Black Keys and Robyn.

Any good luck charms or pre-race rituals?

I don't really believe in lucky things, but I wear lucky underwear as a joke. This year my friends and family are going to wear underwear that says "Super Jules," too! And I do my same routine each time: stretching and Qigong, which helps raise my body temperature. I also envision white, healthy, happy light.

When do you feel sexiest?

Either at the end of the day in bed, just doing my own thing, or when I'm out in my gear, running around and being strong. When I feel healthy, I feel self-confident, and that's sexy to me.