KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — When things were not going all that well for Julia Mancuso during pre-Olympic races a few months ago, she was fairly certain these would be her last Winter Games.
After one bronze medal — and some inspiration from 36-year-old U.S. teammate Bode Miller — Mancuso wouldn’t rule out giving it another try at the next Olympics in 2018, when she’ll be 33.
Mancuso, a four-time Olympic medalist, closed her Sochi Games on Tuesday by failing to finish the first leg of a rain-soaked giant slalom. She won the gold in that event in 2006, a pair of silvers in 2010, and a bronze in the super combined this time. No other U.S. woman has won more than two Alpine medals.
“At the beginning of the season, I felt like there was no way I would come back,” Mancuso said Tuesday.
“But after coming here and kind of having that magical day,” she continued, referring to her medal last week, “it makes me want to keep going. And watching Bode win another medal and have killer downhill training runs, and be so close there, that inspired me. So who says what’s a good age? Just got to go for it. And I love to ski, so we’ll see.”
The only women’s event left on the Sochi skiing schedule is the slalom, and the U.S. team said Mancuso won’t enter that race.
Following the giant slalom, Mancuso tweeted: “That’s a wrap for me here in Sochi. It’s been inspiring! Thanks for all the support and Love! (hash)GoUSA!!! Now I get to celebrate my Bronze!!!”
Mancuso skied out fewer than 10 gates from the end of the GS, bothered in part by tough visibility after splashing water from a puddle onto her goggles.
“I couldn’t see much. ... I was just thinking, ‘OK, now I’ve got to just go with feeling,’” Mancuso said.
Mancuso, who lives in Squaw Valley, Calif., followed up her super-combined bronze in the opening women’s race on the Rosa Khutor course with a pair of eighth-place results in the downhill and super-G.
After the latter, she chastised herself for being too conservative and “wanting to ski well, not necessarily wanting to win.”
“I learned, especially from the super-G, that it’s the Olympics and you have to go for it,” she said Tuesday. “And definitely with the snow surface not being consistent and you can’t really see it, it’s hard with timing. And I was just losing my timing a few times. ... That’s the only bummer when the snow’s like this. You really have to be precise. You can’t get out of body position, otherwise it really gets the best of you.”
In 18 World Cup races this season before heading to Russia, Mancuso never managed better than seventh place. She began by finishing 20th or worse in the first six events.
“Being here and kind of coming back from not a great season kind of put things in perspective for me about what skiing’s about,” she said. “And coming into these Olympics, I really wanted a medal and I got a bronze.”
As for four years from now, she said it remains a possibility. “If I can continue skiing well, especially on the speed side and get to a place where I can still be fighting for gold medals.”