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Injury Prevention Symposium Keynote Speaker, Julia Mancuso

Dreams, no matter how big, can be achieved with determination, a positive outlook and the desire to work hard. Just ask Julia Mancuso, one of only three Team USA athletes to ever medal in three consecutive winter Olympic Games and the most decorated female American Olympic alpine skier, who made her dreams a reality even after overcoming insurmountable odds. As the keynote speaker on May 4 during the second annual Injury Prevention Symposium, Ms. Mancuso inspired the crowd with her story. “She represents the Olympic spirit at its finest. It is such a privilege to have her here tonight. She faced adversity with grace and discipline. We need more Julia’s in the world to make it a better place,” said Dr. Marc Philippon who treated Ms. Mancuso following her Olympic win in the 2006 Turin, Italy games. Ms. Mancuso, who took to the stage only two days following her total hip replacement, enchanted the crowd. “I am a bionic superhero,” she said to applause. “I just received a new hip, which is kind of crazy. But, what I feel like really turned me into a superhero wasn’t winning medals. It was the adversity and character building moments that pushed me to be a better person.” At age 18 she was diagnosed with hip dysplasia, a condition where the hip socket is too shallow to support the ball of the hip. If she wanted to get better, a doctor said at the time, it was going to require surgery that would most likely end her professional ski career. That was an unacceptable answer for Ms. Mancuso, whose dream was to win Olympic gold.

“It made me afraid to go to the doctor. I didn’t want to be told it wasn’t possible. There was no looking back.” She committed to be the best in the world, which would mean training harder and work harder than her peers, all while knowing that she was never going to be able to be as good of a competitor in physical testing. “I then was told about Dr. Philippon,” she recalled. “After we met, he told me to come back after the Olympics and we would decide what to do. He believed that I needed to follow my childhood dream and didn’t want to stand in my way.” Ms. Mancuso would go on to win gold for the giant slalom at the 2006 games in Turin, Italy. “Having my injury led me to always think and be positive and if this is what I was going to be dealt with, I would have to think about where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do.” Dr. Philippon would then go on to perform a hip arthroscopy which led her to having “the best season of my life.” The surgery prolonged the life of her hip, helping to delay a hip replacement performed just two days prior to the event by world-renowned hip specialist and Steadman Clinic surgeon, Dr. Joel Matta. “If athletes say they want to do it, they are going to do it. It is best to just support them. There are millions of superheroes because of people like Dr. Philippon and others in this very room who help us to climb mountains and reach our own goals,” she remarked as the crowd stood to give her a well-deserved standing ovation.

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