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Lindsey vs. Julia: Catfight?

One girl's a media darling with a banged up shin and a medley of World Cup victories. The other is a Victoria's Secret-style vixen with a bad back and a gold medal. Ski racer Lindsey Vonn wants what Julia Mancuso's already got: an Olympic gold. You can watch them go head to head during Wednesday's Olympic downhill in Whistler.

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Call it “healthy rivalry” if you like, but some insiders say the relationship between U.S. Ski Team superstars Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso is downright frosty. While Vonn basks in the glow of multiple World Cup victories (she’s already clinched this year’s super G title), Mancuso watches quietly with a lackluster season behind her. But Mancuso’s got something that Vonn doesn’t have and desperately wants: an Olympic gold medal.

Having spent the majority of their short lives (both are 25) training and racing on the U.S. Ski Team together, one would think they might be close friends. For almost a decade, they’ve traipsed across the globe from Canada to Croatia sharing victories, defeats, meals, and cramped quarters. But insiders claim relations between the U.S. squad’s top female racers aren’t what you would call friendly. One insider revealed, “They are completely different people and they don’t really associate with each other. It’s like one is a violin player and one is a guitarist. They have different personalities and different friends and now there’s even less reason for them to interact.”

Another source surmised, “Julia probably doesn’t like all the attention Lindsey’s getting.”

Yes, the girl nicknamed Jules is sexy and cool and likes to surf. But it’s been said that with her confidence and tiara, she projects “a bit of the Bode syndrome.”And Lindsey? When it comes to ski racing, no other American racer in history has garnered as much media ink as Vonn. Not Bode Miller, not Picabo Street, not Johnny Mosley. Maybe it’s her girl-next-door looks and media savvy, but Vonn has managed to project an air of down-home charm.

“She’s very nice. I mean, come on, she’s from Minnesota,” one former Ski Team member said. But when it comes to Vonn’s role on the Ski Team, another source noted that while she is very well respected, she is also “so separated from the rest of the team with Red Bull and her crew. There’s just not a lot of interaction now with her.”

And this shin business? According to one insider, it might be strategic: “It’s a total PR machine! It serves two purposes: One, it tempers everyone’s expectations so that if she does well, she looks good. If she does bad, she has an excuse.”

In anticipation of Wednesday’s ladies downhill, here’s a breakdown of the girls and their highlights. You make the call.

Hardware: Mancuso is a bonafide Olympic champion having picked up a gold during a bleak day—and a bleak American showing—during the 2006 Games in Turin. Vonn has two World Cup overall titles, two downhill titles and one super G title. No Olympic medals—yet.Cover girls: Vonn landed a sexy Sports Illustrated spread in the 2010 swimsuit issue; Julia scored a steamy Lange girl poster in 2006.

Signature products: Julia just launched a lingerie line aptly named Kiss My Tiara; Vonn recently debuted a skin-tight Spyder suit.Injuries: One girl’s got a bad back (Mancuso); one a banged-up shin (Vonn).

Fathers: Mancuso’s got an ex-con for a dad; Vonn is estranged from hers.

Love life: Vonn married a ski racer; Mancuso likes to date them.

Looks: Jules is California cool, more Victoria’s Secret vixen to Vonn’s blond-haired, blue-eyed, all-American pie.

Maybe the girls should focus on their similarities rather than their differences.

Don’t miss the ladies downhill Wednesday, 2/17 at 11 am PST.