Retired US ski champion Julia Mancuso is leaving no stone unturned to defend a viral video of her throwing her toddler son into a bank of snow so deep that he disappeared from the view after drawing criticism from social media users who didn't seem to enjoy the prank. Mancuso's fans and social media users feel that it was very insensitive of her to play such a risky prank as it could have resulted in tragedy.
In fact, Mancuso, 36, has been forced to explain on social media how she'd made the video, to pacify her roughly 249,000 followers on Instagram. Mancuso, who had won the 2006 Winter Olympics gold medal, had first posted the video on her Instagram account on November 30. Although it initially generated healthy response, social media soon got divided with thousands slamming the champion skier for the irresponsible act.
Mancuso, who lives with her husband Dylan Fish and son 17-month-old son Sonny in California, can be seen in the short clip tossing the toddler in the air before he lands into a massive pile of fresh powder. The toddler then seems to disappear in the snow before Mancuso quickly pulls him out.
When Mancuso first shared the video last month, she added the disclaimer, "No children were harmed making this video." However, it didn't go down well with most of her fans who believe that it was too risky for a toddler.
Mancuso's son can be seen grinning throughout and is warmly dressed in a snowsuit, hat and gloves but several social media users have said that the smile could be masking 'anxiety' about the experience. "This is HORRIBLE!! An infant/toddler/child is not a toy... Why would you think this is ok to do. More disgusting that you did it for an instagram post. You need to take a child safety class and educate yourself. This is not entertaining," one of her followers wrote in the comments.
Another user, melusinashanti, wrote: 'Poor baby. Sometimes laugh is combined with anxiety. He is too small to say what he really felt.'
Almost an Apology
Since then, Mancuso Instagram account has been flooded with similar message, which finally forced her last week to explain her fans that there was no risk involved in the shoot. However, she didn't apologize directly.
While she explained that she wouldn't advise other parents to do similar stunts and 'throw their kid into a snowbank', she said there was 'zero risk' for her son while shooting the video. She also told that her followers had misunderstood her and also didn't watch the video properly. She wrote: "Sonny loved it- there was zero risk of something being buried in the snow since it happened over the course of a day on our patio - we literally watched the snow fall."
That said, there were also a few who came in support of Mancuso. "We used to do the same thing with our future little skiers!! No judgement here for sure." Mancuso retired from the sport in 2018 having won gold in the giant slalom at the 2006 Winter Olympics, two silvers in 2010, and a bronze medal in 2014.