While we’re asleep here in the U.S., the Paralympic skiers are competing, leaving everything on the course. I’ve been a bit sleep-deprived this week, as I’m compelled to check my phone and Facebook every time I wake up in the wee hours of the morning!
This morning I was met with updates that hit me in the heart — 18-year old Stephanie Jallen’s Super G bronze (her first Paralympic medal!) — and then in the gut: two more scary crashes during the women’s mono-skiing Super G. The U.S. Team in particular has had several crashes in competition so far, and I am so incredibly relieved to know that Alana Nichols, Stephani Victor and Tyler Walker are all healing and on a good path to recovery. I’m in awe, as I watch from afar their strength and spirit and the support of the team, coaches, friends and fans from around the world. Let’s all continue to send prayers and positive energy to Alana, Stephani, Tyler, and to all the athletes!
I love my husband’s morning (my time) updates from Sochi, but today stood out, when he told me he cried (twice) during Stephanie Jallen’s award ceremony. After skiing with Stephanie at The Ski Spectacular event in Breckenridge — when she was only 9 or 10 — Joe was so excited to be there in person for her first medal.
Stephanie was born with a rare birth defect called CHILDS — Congenital Hemidysplasia with Ichthyosiform Erythroderma and Limb Defects Syndrome. CHILDS is a chromosomal disorder that affects the entire left side of the body, leaving Jallen with only one leg and one fully developed arm. Instructors initially wanted to put Stephanie in a mono-ski, but she insisted on learning to ski standing up.
From today’s USA Daily: “This is absolutely incredible,” Jallen said. “It’s something I only dreamed about. I have never been a bigger believer that dreams come true than right now. I’ve imagined it for the last nine years of my life, and in my very first run in the Paralympic Games I score a bronze.”