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Julia Mancuso

Ski Star Julia Mancuso on Skin Cancer Awareness, Sunscreen and Squats

Written on January 2, 2013 at 5:00 pm , by

Julia Mancuso, professional skier and three-time Olympic medalist, knows a thing or two about sun protection. Not only is she religious about shielding her skin on the slopes, she’s the granddaughter of a dermatologist. So when she was asked to team up with the American Academy of Dermatology for their SPOT Skin Cancer initiative to raise awareness for skin cancer, it was the perfect fit. As a “SPOTlighter” for the campaign, Mancuso is spreading the word to better the public’s understanding of the deadly disease and motivate them to change their behavior to prevent and detect skin cancer.

Tell me about the SPOT Skin Cancer Campaign and why it’s important to you.
“I grew up being really in tune with taking care of my skin and wearing sunscreen and taking the right steps to protect myself on all occasions. I actually preach to my teammates all of the time, saying, ‘Make sure you’re wearing sunscreen!’ And then my grandpa mentioned something about the America Academy of Dermatology, and working with them and how they were coming up with a new campaign. They contacted me and it was just a real natural introduction and fit to help promote the campaign.”

Many people mistakenly think they only need sunscreen during the summer or at the beach, so why is sun protection important year round?
“It’s so important—especially for someone like me who spends so much time outdoors training in the sun in the winter. In the past, I’ve been guilty of having a goggle tan, so that’s the first indication to me that you get a lot of sun outside in the snow, even when there are clouds and you think that it’s not penetrating. I’m proud to say that I haven’t had a goggle tan since I was a young girl. It’s really important to protect yourself at all times.”

What’s your sun protection plan when you’re training?
“Every morning, I wake up and put on a moisturizer that has SPF 30, and then I put a regular sunscreen on top of that. We spend a lot of time training and then take a break in the lodge so I always reapply when I go inside or I keep it with my water, so anytime I stop for a drink, it reminds me to put more sunscreen on. In the summer when we’re training outside in high elevation for glacier skiing, I try to wear a handkerchief to block sun reflecting off the snow, too.”

Do you have any favorite sweat-proof sunblock products?
“I like wearing Shiseido products—they’re really great for all-weather protection. I like to wear the Shiseido Sun Protection Liquid Foundation ($35, shiseido.com). I think that it’s nice you can get a little coverage when your skin gets red from being outside.”

What are your other beauty must-haves?
“Well, recently, I’ve been using Osea Malibu, they use all-organic algae in their products. I use the Essential Hydrating Oil ($28, oseamalibu.com), which I find really good in the winter because you’re not putting heavy creams on. You can moisturize with a clean oil, even just the spots that get dry, and then you’re not putting on too much product that feels heavy underneath scarves and hats.”

What are some of the best exercises skiers can do to become stronger?
“A basic squat is the most typical exercise because skiing involves a lot of core strength and quads and glutes, but for me, I think the biggest myth for skiers is that you want to have really strong quads, but it’s actually that you want to balance your hamstrings and quads. So when I’m doing a lot of exercises, I focus on lifting my tailbone coming up so I’m really engaging my hamstrings as well which prevents knee injury.”

How do you like to stay in shape during the off-season?
“I think a great thing for skiers is biking. I really like to ride my road bike, so I do a lot of road biking and spend time in the gym doing squats and Olympic lifting and jumping. Agility work, box jumps and other plyometrics are great for skiing.”