The Paralympics started yesterday and I know they don't get a whole lot of attention so I thought it would be nice to give some recognition to some of our amazing atheletes!
Today I'm focusing on Team Canada's Lauren Woolstencroft. She was born with no legs below the knees and no left arm below the elbow. She competes on Canada's Alpine ski team using prosthetic legs and a prosthetic left arm.
Lauren grew up in Calgary and started skiing at the age of 4 and got into competetive ski racing when she was 14. She made the Canadian disabled alpine ski team when she was 16, becoming a triple gold medallist at the 2000 world championships. Lauren has won over 50 medals including 8 world championship titles, 5 Paralympic medals and is 2006 IPC (International Paralympic Committee) Athlete of the Year!!!
In 2002 Lauren won 2 gold medals and a bronze in Salt Lake City and became known as the Paralympic Winter Games "Golden Girl". She took home 2 golds at the 2006 games in Turin! This was an amazing achievement because the slalom is a technical event, with shorter, slower courses and sharper turns while the super G is a speed event. It is very unusual to find a skier that can do both consistently well. Lauren decided that she had nothing left to prove and was done with competetive skiing.
But plans changed when she found out the 2010 games were being held in Vancouver, her adopted home. Lauren is an electrical engineer and when she landed a job with BC Hydro, a games sponsor with the ability to give her the time off to compete, it seemd like everything was falling into place.
And now she is back in 2010, competing in 5 events! (Women's Downhill, Slalom, Giant Slalom, Super-G and Super Combined) I will definitely be tuning in and cheering Lauren on in the hopes that she will get to add some more medals to her collection!
Here are some quotes from a recent interview Lauren had with the Montreal Gazette.
"There are mental issues within perfectly able-bodied people that are just as difficult for them to deal with as is a physical disability."
"I couldn't have had an easier childhood. I've never really been that intense about looks ... (and) I never really felt that I looked that much different. I'm not trying to say that life with a disability is better than without, but I think it's done positive things for my life."
"I ski race because I love it," Woolstencroft said. "I don't really care that people don't know who I am, but I think it would do a lot for our sport to be more well-known, which leads to more sponsors and more money leads to better events, better skiing, better training, better equipment, everything."