Slowed by hip problems, Mancuso retiring after Cortina race

CORTINA D’AMPEZZO: Four-time Olympic medalist Julia Mancuso announced she will retire from skiing after a goodbye run in a World Cup downhill Friday.

Slowed by persistent hip problems, the American skier did not qualify for next month’s Pyeongchang Winter Games but will still go to South Korea as part of NBC’s broadcast team.

Mancuso has battled hip issues throughout her career and missed two full seasons of competition following surgery after the 2014-15 season. She returned to competition last month but only completed two races — finishing outside the top 30 on both occasions.

“It has been an epic battle with my hip injury, and the past three years I have put everything into returning to competition at the highest level and the goal to reach my fifth Olympic Games,” Mancuso said in a statement. “There have been really promising days during this challenging process, and I have kept my spirits up despite many who questioned or doubted me.

“Sadly, I haven’t found the progression to compete with the best in the world again, but I’m proud to have fought until the very end,” Mancuso added. “It is with a heavy heart that I say goodbye to ski racing, but I do so with a full heart.”

Mancuso, 33, plans to make her way down the Olympia delle Tofane course in casual fashion — perhaps donning the tiara she wore at victory celebrations throughout her career.

Mancuso won gold in giant slalom at the 2006 Turin Games, silver in downhill and combined at the 2010 Vancouver Games and bronze in combined at the 2014 Sochi Games — a haul that makes her the most decorated American female skier in Olympic history.

Known for excelling at big events, Mancuso also collected five medals at world championships and won seven World Cup races

“Winning a gold medal at the Olympics is the pinnacle of ski racing,” Mancuso said in an interview at Copper Mountain, Colorado, in November. “And even though it happened a long time ago, I still really cherish those moments and I’ll have that with me forever.

“I really look forward to the next part of my skiing career, which will be exploring and adventuring through the mountains with my friends and hopefully do some more filming in the back country,” Mancuso added. “I don’t really look at it as ending a ski career. I just look at it as transitioning — and I won’t have to wake up quite as early, so that’s nice.”

Ending her career in Cortina takes Mancuso full circle since the Italian resort was where she earned her first World Cup podium result in 2006 by finishing second in a super-G.