March 11, 2010

Interview with Paralympian Danelle Umstead, Alpine Skier

via the US Paralympic website:

Danelle Umstead, 38, a visually impaired alpine ski racer, is one of the top Americans entering the Paralympic Winter Games. Umstead was 13 when she was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a disease which leads to gradual loss or reduction in visual ability. In 2000, she went skiing for the first time with her father. Nine years later, with her husband, Rob, as her guide, she won five titles in six days at the 2009 Hartford U.S. Adaptive Alpine Championships in Winter Park, Colo. Now the Umsteads, the parents of a 2-year-old boy, Brocton, are preparing for the Paralympic GamesItalic

You can find the rest of the interview here.

Danelle speaks about how her father looked into adaptive skiing after she was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa. She began skiing competitively in 2006. Her husband Rob is her guide, but Danelle explains that we should refer to them as a visually impaired team, not an athlete and their guide in this article called How does that work? which answers a lot of questions about skiers with visual impairments. I suggest you take a look at it before watching the videos, because it'll give you a lot of information.

She also explains how adaptive skiers are classified.

With disabled skiing there are many different classifications. There are three categories of disabled ski racers - stand up, sit skier, and the visually impaired. These three groups compete amongst themselves. Times are adjusted within the category based on the athlete's degree of disability. Blind skiers are separated into three groups depending on the severity of their vision loss. It ranges from total blindness to having partial sight.

This November 2009 video shows Danelle and Rob training.

Danelle's blog can be found here and Danelle and Rob's site, Team Vision4Gold, can be found here.

A video featuring Danelle's quest for the gold at the 2010 Paralympics can be found here.

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