OUT OF THE GATE
Despite a loss of vision, Christina DiPietro still slips past
most other girls on her Maine ski racing circuit.
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Sure, ski racers complain about fog and snow messing up their vision. But for Christina DiPietro, a 15-year-old ski racer at Maine’s
Fryeburg Academy, things are almost always a bit difficult to see, even
on a crystal clear, bluebird day. That’s because DiPietro has retinitis
pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease that leads to incurable blindness. Having been diagnosed at age 4, she is now legally blind — but
still manages to regularly finish slalom and GS races in the top five
among girls with 20/20 vision. Recently, Ski Racing caught up with
Christina DiPietro in between events.
When did you begin ski racing?
I started racing at the age of 9 as a first year J5 for Cranmore Mountain
And when did you first notice a loss of vision? Can you ex-
in North Conway, N.H. Cranmore Race Team coaches were aware of
my visual impairment and they were great about it, making me the racer
I am today. I continued through the entire race program at Cranmore,
all the way through J3 level. Under the guidance of John Sakovits, the
race team director at Cranmore, the J2 and high school program was
developed. The high school program is for J2-level racers who want
to continue training, but only race for their high school team. I am cur-
rently involved in this program and it is really great.
plain what that first moment was like?
That’s hard to pinpoint because I’ve had this condition my entire life. I
always was bumping into things and people, so it was normal for me.
My first field-of-vision screening is when I really realized what I should
be seeing and what I do see. I thought what I saw was normal, but it
wasn’t. I had a better understanding of my condition after I went over
the field of vision screening, and then I just moved on to the next thing
that my 4-year old mind was interested in.
What is it like to race now with impaired vision? What do the
gates and the snow look like?
With my RP, my vision loss is in the peripheral; in other words, I don’t
see to my left or my right, or above and below. So usually on the race-
course I feel safer than any place else on the mountain, because I
is also a fierce field
SkiRacing.com MARCH 17, 2011 | 8