FOLLOW STACI’S PATH
Staci discovered skiing at age 4, at first holding a bamboo pole between two sighted skiers.
“I thought it was just cool that I could do stuff like everyone else,” she says. “It was the first thing I did normally.”
Despite being visually impaired, Staci excelled and raced in her first competition as a fifth-grader. She joined the Adaptive Sports Foundation Race Team at Windham Mountain Ski Resort in New York shortly after.
Staci began envisioning skiing in the Paralympics when she met members of the U.S. Paralympics Alpine Skiing National Team while competing at the Hartford Ski Spectacular in 2008. This year Staci’s vision took a step forward when she was selected for the Developmental Team squad of the U.S. team that will compete at the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi, Russia, March 7-16, 2014. She is the youngest team member and the only one in high school.
Staci has raced in many national races, medaling in most. Most recently she competed in the US Adaptive Alpine Championships at Alyeska, Alaska, winning junior national championships in downhill and silver slalom. See Staci’s racing results…
Yet racing is the endgame of hard work for Staci. During the winter she practices each Saturday and Sunday at Windham with her guide, Kim Seevers, often rising early to catch the first chairlift. During the school year Staci works with a personal trainer and rides horses to keep her legs strong – and because she really loves horses. In June 2011 Staci joined the U.S. Paralympics Alpine National Team to train at Mt. Hood in Oregon.
Staci has grown as a skier since first taking to the slopes in 2000. When she was a child her mother, Susan, adorned her bright green bibs that identify a visually impaired skier with the words “Partially Sighted-Totally Cute.” Now as a young women Staci’s bibs read “Partially Sighted-Wicked Fast” when she is not competing.
With all the racing and attention Staci receives it is easy to forget she is a 15-year-old. Staci lives in Randolph, New Jersey, and attends the Morris County School of Technology, where her friends tease her about spending too much time in training. She adores horses and plans to become an equine veterinarian.
Yet Staci’s sense of balance – both on and off the slopes – is her most remarkable asset. While she was sad to lose the second part of her moniker, “Totally Cute,” she knew it was time – “I kind of outgrew it,” she says. Besides, the new phrase – “Wicked Fast” – is more apropos because Staci loves speed. Downhill is her favorite competition.
One of Staci’s advantages is her lack of fear. Her guide Kim often compares what they do to riding in a car traveling 55 miles per hour while blindfolded and trusting the person next to you to tell you when to turn. Staci doesn’t fear what she doesn’t see and when she wipes out she hops right up.
Staci also now has the advantage of being part of the U.S. Paralympics Alpine National Team, and will benefit from coaching by some of the best adaptive coaches in the world. She claims to be realistic about her chances of medaling at Sochi and sees the 2014 Games as a stepping stone for future success. But one suspects Staci envisions standing upon the medal platform.
First she must get there. Although they are part of the U.S. team, Paralympics athletes face considerable costs, including airfare and food. In Staci’s case those costs increase incrementally due to Kim, her guide. The Adaptive Sports Foundation estimates Staci will need to raise $200,000 to compete at the 2014 Games.
Staci already envisions reaching that goal.