Winter Olympian Julia Mancuso Paddleboards to Train in Offseason


You wouldn’t think stand up paddleboarding would be in the training program for anyone who is competing in the winter Olympics.

That’s not true for alpine skier Julia Mancuso.

I was watching an intro video for Julia as I was glued to my television (USA! USA!) when I was surprised to hear that her exercise regime includes SUP and other beach training while she lives in Maui from April to June. However, her time spent on the sunny Hawaiian island isn’t exactly leisurely.

While living in Hawaii, Mancuso works out every day from 8 in the morning to 1 PM, at least. This includes lifting, Pilates, and underwater training. She free dives, surfs, and paddleboards because she says the activity keeps her mentally focused in the off-season. “I need things that push me and keep my adrenaline going.” She also works three days a week with a trainer at a gym.

She spends every Sunday on a stand up paddleboard with her dad. “It’s our Sunday ritual,” she says.

Mancuso splits her time between Squaw Valley, California and Maui, putting in time on the slopes in the sunshine state and cross-training in Maui during the off-season. This past fall, she spent two weeks training in Chile with the US ski team.

Part of her cross-training in the ocean includes running in the waves while carrying heavy rocks as well as balancing on a slackline between palm trees. She spends a lot of training time paying attention to her core strength and emphasizing balance, taking her balance ball with her everywhere she travels. Even when Julia is paddleboarding, she makes a conscious decision to do core work on top of the water.

The underwater training exercises that she’s incorporated is as much a mental exercise as anything. Mancuso says, “getting into underwater training has helped a lot with mental training. You have to really know your limits and then believe you can push yourself to that limit.”

Julia also does Pilates seven hours a week. She sets herself apart from other people in the studio because she brings her boots along to class. Pilates helped Mancuso recover from an injury some years ago and she believes it has helped keep her injury free for three years since she’s started practicing religiously.

She keeps her boots on during balance control exercises, too. She says “it helps my brain remember correct body position for when I’m on the slopes.” She said that doing the movies in ski boots “trains my body not to do little compensations like hiking up my hips when I make a turn on the ski hill.”

Julia Mancuso has four Olympic medals—the most ever for an American female alpine skier in addition to five World Championship medals. Her Olympic medals include gold in the giant slalom in 2006, two silvers from the 2010 Vancouver games in the downhill and super-combined, and has recently taken home the bronze in women’s super-combined at the current Sochi games. She has qualified and competed in four Olympic games.

Being at the winter Olympics hasn’t kept Julia away from the surf, either. She made an effort to go ride the available waves in the Black Sea this past week during the almost balmy weather that Sochi has had.

I guess you could say this Olympian enjoys water in all its forms, whether it’s paddleboarding on top of it or skiing at a blistering pace down a snow covered mountain.

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