OUT OF THE GATE
don’t have to worry about skier’s traffic to my left or my right. Because of this, I am really
comfortable being on the course. The vision I do have is hindered by blind spots throughout. So even though I can see straight ahead, the gates tend to come at me faster, especially in slalom. The snow reflects the bright light and the reflection off the snow can be
very painful and blinding at times because I am highly sensitive to lighting.
Are there any limitations on the race hill for you because of your retinitis
pigmentosa? Or moments when you have been scared?
Really the only limitation on the race hill for me is lighting. Flat light and very bright sunlight
are the worst, and I am night-blind. My school, Fryeburg Academy, races at night at Shawnee Peak in Maine. Mrs. Thurston, Fryeburg Academy’s athletic director, petitioned the
MPA (Maine Principals’ Association) to allow me to take my runs while it’s still light outside.
Shawnee Peak has been great about accommodating me and setting the course early for
me. I usually don’t feel I’m any more scared or nervous than any other racer in the starting
gate; I mostly get really excited.
What keeps you racing, and what are your goals for ski racing?
I am very passionate about ski racing and skiing, so I intend to ski the rest of my life. It’s
a sport I could never imagine not doing. I love the camaraderie with all my teammates,
and I have so much fun skiing with them everyday. I love the challenge of ski racing; every
course is different, and there is always something you need to work on in your form. Once
you accomplish a goal in ski racing, the feeling is the best feeling in the world, because
you’ve had to work hard to get there. Racing has helped my confidence and self-esteem,
and has given me a sense of freedom that with my vision I don’t normally have. My goals
for ski racing are to keep racing for Fryeburg Academy and to continue with the Cranmore
Race program. I plan on attending college and would like to explore opportunities for racing at the college level for people who have similar circumstances as I do.
We hear you like to joke with the coach about not seeing the gates, can you tell
We have a very close ski team at Fryeburg Academy so we are always having a good time
and joking around. This particular instance my coach was pointing out a slalom gate that I
couldn’t quite find. Not knowing where he was pointing, I asked, “What gates?” He laughed
and then pointed to exactly which gate he was talking about. We have a lot of fun with each
other and I’m looking forward to next season.
Your results have been great this season; what are you going to do in the off-
As soon as the season is over, I work out after school in the fitness center at Fryeburg
Academy and do different programs to keep in shape for my spring sport [track]. The pro-
grams are directed my Mrs. Buzzell, the strength and conditioning coach. During the sum-
mer I continue to work out and In the fall I play field hockey.
“On the racecourse I feel safer than anyplace lse on the mountain,” says DiPietro.
SkiRacing.com MARCH 17, 2011 | 9