When I was four months old, I was diagnosed with a rare genetic eye condition called achromatopsia. The photoreceptors in my eyes called cones do not work fully and as a result I am partially colorblind, extremely light sensitive, and overall have poor visual acuity. When I was diagnosed my parents were informed that, “Your child is disabled. She will never live a fulfilling life”. My parents chose to prove that doctor wrong and decided to raise me with the understanding that my potential was limitless in spite of my visual impairment.
When I was four years old my parents decided they needed to find a sport my siblings and I could do together, so I started skiing at Windham Mountain’s Adaptive Sports Foundation. When I first started, I skied between two instructors holding a bamboo pole. My parents thought I would ski like that for the rest of my life. It is safe to say I have exceeded their expectations
When I was twelve I began to ski faster than all of my instructors, so I decided to give racing a try. I ski following a sighted guide. We communicate via Bluetooth headsets in our helmets and this partnership transforms ski racing, which is usually thought of as an individual sport, into a team sport dependent on trust, communication, and dedication. I met my first guide, Kim Seevers, and we set our sights on making the Paralympic team for the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games. After six years of incredibly hard work, competing in many national and international competitions, my dreams became a reality and at 17 I was named as the youngest member of the 2014 Sochi Paralympic Alpine ski team. I left the games with two sixth place finishes and an even stronger drive to improve.
After completing my first year of my undergraduate degree at Dartmouth College, I decided to return to ski racing. I began skiing with my second guide, Sadie DeBaun. We became friends quickly and our friendship helped us create a strong partnership. Together Sadie and I won many world cup races and even managed a bronze medal in the 2017 Para Alpine Skiing World Championships. We worked hard both on and off the snow to improve our strength and abilities. However, our season leading up to the 2018 Paralympics was challenging in many ways. I tore my MCL, broke my thumb, and sustained a serious concussion while training. In spite of many injuries and setbacks we were privileged to represent the U.S. at the 2018 Paralympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea. While our results were not what we had hoped for, we did the best we could provided the circumstances, and that is something I am proud of. My career is so much more than the medals I have won and the moments I have skied my very best. People do not always see the work that goes in to making elite athletes and preparing for the games, but being a part of Paralympic sport has shaped me in ways that stretch far beyond my athletic achievements.
Great Question! I am figuring that out as I go. After PyeongChang I took a break from ski racing to finish my undergraduate degree at Dartmouth College and start a Master of Science degree in the school of Kinesiology at the University of British Columbia. In the winter of 2020, I will return to ski racing with a new guide to remember why skiing fast makes me so happy. It will be challenging to return to racing after significant time away, but I have decided to follow my heart and love for the sport with the hopes of enjoying the process and seeing where it leads me. As always, I could not pursue my dreams without your support! Thank you for your interest in my story, it is appreciated more than you know.
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