By Elliott Almond
Saturday, February 20th, 2010 at 9:41 am in Uncategorized.
WHISTLER, British Columbia – If they were men, it’s doubtful the long-time rivalry between Squaw Valley’s Julia Mancuso and Colorado’s Lindsey Vonn would turn into something manufactured for roller derby. The latest rumblings: the skiers hate each other and another Nancy Kerrigan-Tanya Harding drama is about to break out.
Perhaps that’s what NBC needs to help its troublesome, West Coast, tape-delayed coverage. Never mind. Not even sure that’s going to boost the anemic coverage back home.
Mancuso and Vonn aren’t cooperating with this juicy storyline anyway. The women have raced against each other since they were 12. They’re certainly not friends but they probably wouldn’t be even when taking ski racing out of the equation.
I don’t claim to know either other than writing about them for the past eight years. But here are a few observations:
–Vonn, a Minnesota native, is regimented. It helps her stay focused on skiing like the wind. Mancuso divides her time between the Sierra Nevada and Maui – a true California free spirit. She has been known to take off free skiing between runs of races. “It’s all just fun for Jules,” sister April told me this morning.
–Vonn has had strong father figures in her life. First, her dad Alan Kildow, and now her husband Thomas Vonn. Lindsey is estranged from Kildow. Mancuso grew up without her father around because he had to serve time in prison on a drug bust. But they have been close since his release; the Mancuso family — including three daughters – is tight knit.
–Vonn likes to get along with the group, and really, beyond ski racing, doesn’t say too much about what she really is thinking. She’s polished and uncomplicated when speaking publicly. Mancuso is whip-smart and doesn’t always have patience for some of the media hype even though she wants to use her celebrity to promote projects such as Right to Play.
During the Vancouver Games the women have done nothing to stir up controversy. Mancuso has been effusive in praising her rival, saying Vonn deserves all the publicity.
April Mancuso, dressed in Christmas red long johns with “Go Jules” stitched on the back, chuckled when asked about the rivalry. Yes, she said, they laugh at the suggestion that the skiers hate each other.
Two weeks ago I mentioned to Julia that the big build up surrounding Vonn would help her in Whistler.
Mancuso laughed at that, and then said, “Hopefully I can peak at the right time.”