Mancuso skips World Cup Finals with bothersome hip

Julia Mancuso set aside her skis early. Now back in Hawaii, she's neglecting her surfboard as well.

That's just how bothersome her right hip has become in recent weeks.

The four-time Olympic medalist will skip the World Cup Finals in Meribel, France, to rest in paradise and figure out what's going on with her aching hip. It was a tough call for Mancuso, who rarely sits out a competition. She could've gone through the motions on the mountain in France, raced for the sake of competing, but that's hardly her style.

''I want to win a race, not survive and get down,'' Mancuso said in a phone interview from Maui. ''I felt like it was the right decision to take a step back.''

Mancuso said surgery isn't in the forecast. Still, no one can quite figure out what's wrong. The only thing Mancuso knows is that when she turns at extreme angles on the race hill, pain shoots up along her right side. These days, even walking bothers her a little bit.

That's why surfing and snorkeling - her other pastimes - are on hold for the moment.

''Just trying to be smart,'' said Mancuso, who turned 31 last week.

Mancuso was off to a solid start this season, taking third in a downhill race in Lake Louise, Alberta, on Dec. 6. Soon after, she fell in a giant slalom event and the pain began.

From there, it only intensified as the season went along. She was dealing with it at the world championships in Beaver Creek, Colorado, last month, where her best finish was ninth in the super-G.

''It's just been an emotional roller coaster,'' said Mancuso, who had hip and back problems earlier in her career. ''It's really interesting to learn how you go through peaks and valleys and just that it really is difficult to be in the flow and feeling great every race. I definitely learned I can't compete where I want to and with the best girls in the world, unless I'm healthy.''

She plans to be around for a while. At least until the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea, she said. That's why she's not willing to take any unnecessary risk now.

''I'm really trying to put all my effort and energy into that (Olympics),'' Mancuso said. ''That's important for me to feel really good, going into the next Olympics.''

The Olympics have long been her stage to shine. She's captured gold, two silvers and a bronze at the last three Winter Games. Her gold medal was at the 2006 Turin Games in the giant slalom, an event she may eliminate from her repertoire moving forward.

It's the one that taxes her hip. Plus, she crashed twice in the giant slalom this season.

''Just something I have to think about,'' Mancuso said.

Her last race of the 2014-15 season was a downhill in Germany on March 7 when she finished 32nd. She felt sick the next day for the super-G and didn't start. She then reached the conclusion to shut down her season.

''It just seemed a better decision to go home and figure out what was going on,'' said Mancuso, who's currently tied for 17th in the overall race. ''I didn't feel like I was in a place where I could compete at 100 percent. I have had hip problems my whole career.

''In a way, this was a welcomed break. Hopefully, I'll figure out this hip problem and hopefully be back on the podium next year.''

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