It wasn’t my plan to become a professional athlete. It became my destiny. I have always been competitive and athletic. I love the thrill of using one’s own power, strength or flexibility to score a goal, achieve the fastest time in a race, or soar beyond my limitations real or perceived. I push myself. I expect excellence and I do not shy away from discipline. I know first hand that this moment is the only one we truly have and I am committed to making it count.
The seemingly insurmountable challenge of no longer having legs, was so difficult and extreme beyond my imagination that it forced me to fight if I was going to maintain my independence. That fight began with a single pull-up in my hospital bed and evolved into relentless search for the sport I could dedicate myself too.
It took not only finding the sport, but the coach who could lead me to my best athletic performance. Marcel Kuonen, then head coach of the National Ability Center and former Swiss Ski Team racer himself, saw the potential in me and sparked the vision for me to recreate myself – with no legs as the best alpine ski racer in the world. But so much more than results, Marcel and I cultivated a love and respect that grew into a life long committed union. Yes, I married my coach.
Something about the word athlete implies “alone” but that was anything but my experience. My success is truly as a result of a remarkable team. People who believe in me and have shown their support in many ways through the generous gift of their time, expertise and even finances. Thanks to them, I have realized my dream of winning an Olympic gold Medal – twice…and so much more.
The perfect alchemy of opportunity, will, love and guidance brought me to the mountain. In many ways ski racing filled me with so much purpose, it saved my life, by filling it with joy.