Julia Mancuso may be flying high down the mountains of Olympic stardom, but the rest of the US prospects aren’t doing so well.
With the Sochi Winter Olympics in less than a month, the heat is officially on, even in the notoriously chilly Alps where skiing hopefuls Leanne Smith, Stacey Cook and Laurenne Ross have all been trying their hardest to make the podium.
Unfortunately, it looks like America’s hopes are just as blurry as Mancuso’s figure as she speeds down a snowy hill, because not a single woman from the US team has made it into the top ten this season. Last year, six did.
Part of the decline can be blamed on injuries. Alice McKennis was forced to withdraw after a crash that fractured her tibial plateau, and fan favorite Lindsey Vonn lost her chances when she underwent yet another reconstructive surgery for a knee problem, disappointing an entire legion of ski enthusiasts.
“I’m kind of in the process of accepting the fact that I’m not there,” she told NBC, echoing the sentiments of her fans.
The one bright spot on the horizon is Mancuso, a 28-year-old alpine skier from Reno. Mancuso has already taken home three Olympic medals from the Games in 2006 and 2010, not to mention the six golds she’s won at the World Championships, and her reign looks to continue at Sochi.
After a slow start, one that was punctuated with family troubles and emergency hospital visits, Mancuso eventually slid into 13th place with some of her best times ever.
“It’s not a shock to me when I have a good race,” Mancuso told GQ earlier this year.
“I started to tell people I’d just worn my lucky underwear.”
Indeed, Mancuso’s lucky underwear was the prime focus on her forays into fashion in 2012, when she developed a sexy lingerie line called Kiss My Tiara. The joke was an ongoing one from her very first Olympic games after her couch gifted her with a tiara to wear while accepting her gold medal.
While the lingerie line failed to go global, Mancuso says she didn’t take the failure to heart. She’s still going to wear her lucky underwear for the big race.
As for her chances, Mancuso assures everyone that she’s going for a fourth Olympic win.
“It’s been a tough start, but things are really going according to plan going to the Games,” she told CBS News. “I feel exactly where I need to be.