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Julia Mancuso at age 10, training on Mount Hood. Photo by Brian Robb

Clutch performer Julia Mancuso won her fourth Olympic medal in Russia in the super combined by ripping through the downhill in first place, and then hanging on through a tough slalom course to keep her spot on the podium.

Mancuso had a very slow start to the World Cup season in November and December but as usual picked up her speed for the big-time races of the Olympics. She posted the fastest time in the downhill portion of the super combined and then took thirteenth in the slalom portion to finish third overall behind Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany and Nicole Hosp of Austria.

Mancuso is one of the best-known skiers in the world, notorious for her free-spirited goofing around as much as her fearless skiing. She grew up in Squaw Valley, California but like most top racers has spent her share of time on Mount Hood for summer training. Local racing coach and videographer Robin Cressy shared the above photo (shot by Brian Robb) that shows Julia in her pre-glory days running gates at the Mt. Hood Summer Ski Camp wearing a puffy coat and no helmet.

Mancuso has improved her skills and fashion sense dramatically since then - without losing her free-spirited sense of adventure and fun. The Internet and her Facebook page are full of lively images and videos of Julia free diving, posing in her panties, surfing, dancing, singing, shredding powder in Warren Miller films, building snowmen, rock climbing, mountain biking, wakeboarding and more.

Her Facebook post about winning bronze in Russia picked up 25,000 likes in six hours.

Here is the photo she shared through social media after becoming only the third winter Olympian in history to medal in three consecutive winter games:

Julia also will compete in Super G and downhill at the Sochi Games, and any time she makes it to the starting gate in the Olympics she has a chance to win.

 

 

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