Home  >  Magazine  >  Issue 26 : Jan/Feb 2009  > Columns  >  Stretching Your Limits


By Kazuko Ikeda

Stretching Your Limits


Taking the World Cup by Storm…and by RV

All across Japan some people are starting their winter mornings shoveling fresh snow; others are tightly wrapping up in scarves heading into the chilly city streets on their way to the office. This mid-winter column looks at the adventures of one of my Pilates students, alpine skier and Olympic gold medalist Julia Mancuso as she tours the World Cup circuit.

Ski season for alpine professionals runs from the end of October through mid-March, during which time athletes take part in competitions throughout North America, Scandinavia and Europe. Pros compete in nearly 40 events during the season, some specializing in particular styles of riding while others choose to compete in a variety of slalom, super-G and downhill races.

Julia falls into the last category, spending the better part of five months away from home, pushing her mental and physical limits. The strain of the tour is why many athletes consider a World Cup title an even greater achievement than an Olympic gold medal.

Most non-European athletes on the European tour are forced to live out of hotels, which may seem posh to some readers. However, after several weeks of moving from hotel to chalet, the toll on the body is more than you can imagine. Both Julia and the talented American skier Bode Miller solve this problem by living out of RVs.

The merits are many, topped by the availability of a kitchen. Having the facilities with you to cook three square meals a day means you can leave behind the high-salt, butter-laden, oil-dripping foods at hotels and restaurants and shop at local markets to better control the athlete’s diet. And it should be noted Julia is quite the chef.

The second benefit to an RV is that it is both your “home away from home” and “personal gym.” Despite the space limitations, there is something relaxing about curling up on your own bed with your favorite blanket and pillow. Throw a bicycle on the back and a ProVib (www.provib.com) in the corner, and you’re ready to work out anytime in your “mini-gym.”

This lifestyle isn’t just reserved for the World Cup circuit, though. Julia and Bode brought their RVs to the 2006 Torino Olympics and made use of them exclusively throughout the games. You can follow Julia on the tour at www.juliamancuso.com.