During the winter, World Cup skier Julia Mancuso markets in unhinged downhill careening. In her off-season, she settles onto a more level plane. The 24-year-old speed demon, who spends her summers on the Hawaiian island of Maui, is a disciple of stand-up paddling, in which she propels herself through the ocean gondolier-style on a specially made 10-foot surfboard. As luck would have it, the recreation also gives her a killer ski-specific workout.
"It's hard to recreate the ever-changing ground that comes at you as you ski," she says. "But on a stand-up board you're constantly tipping and balancing and having to make small, quick adjustments. It improves your reaction time and balance."
After healing from arthro-scopic hip surgery two years ago, Mancuso headed straight to a surfboard. "It was the best way to synchronize all those small muscles in my feet, ankles and legs that I hadn't used in a while." The rehabbing regimen paid off; later that year Mancuso won her first World Cup event. As if spending every day at the beach weren't reward enough.