What an Encore
More than 500 athletes gather in Whistler
and Vancouver for the 2010 Paralympic
Winter Games BY ERIC WILLIAMS
The sheer number of ski racing gold, silver and bronze medals distrib-
uted at the Vancouver Paralympic Games from March 12 to 21 was impres-
sive: 147 medals total in the alpine and cross country skiing events. Even
more impressive, however, were the athletes themselves — more than 500
participants from 44 nations, each with stories of overcoming challenges
much greater than a few gates, a clock and a course on the Whistler snow.
All skiing events for the alpine and cross country disciplines were divided
into three categories: standing, sitting and visually impaired. Thousands
of spectators gathered at the same venues used at the Olympic Winter
Games. Alpine skiers were tested at Whistler Creekside while the cross
country competition was held at Whistler Paralympic Park.
The attention on the alpine side went to North Vancouver’s own Lau-
ren Woolstencroft, who swept the women’s standing competition with five
gold medals and leads as large as 12 seconds on the rest of the field.
“I never though I would actually win the five medals,” said the 28-year-
old, who was born without legs below the knee and without her left arm
below the elbow and works as an electrical engineer. “The biggest chal-
lenge here was to ski your best day after day. I had great confidence com-
ing in and I was super prepared. I knew I had the potential but you can
never know what is going to happen.”
Woolstencroft became the most decorated woman from any country at
a single Paralympic Winter Games. In the 34-year history of the Winter
Paralympics, there have been seven women to win four gold medals in a
single Games — one of these athletes was American alpine skier Sarah
Will at the Salt Lake 2002 Games.