Lauren Woolstencroft: Paralympic Superstar


At the 2002 Salt Lake City Paralympics Lauren Woolstencroft whooshed by the competition, capturing a hat trick of medals. She scooped up golds in the Super G and Slalom disciplines, and a bronze in the Giant Slalom. The Victoria, B.C.

At the 2002 Salt Lake City Paralympics Lauren Woolstencroft whooshed by the competition, capturing a hat trick of medals. She scooped up golds in the Super G and Slalom disciplines, and a bronze in the Giant Slalom. The Victoria, B.C. resident was born missing both legs below the knee and her left arm below the elbow, but never let her disability limit the scope of her dreams. Woolstencroft has been carving powder since she was three, racing since she was fourteen, and shredding the competition ever since. I caught up with the ski queen as she prepares for Torino.

You’ve said before that it can sometimes be patronizing when people talk about “how inspirational” or “amazing” Paralympians are. Can you expand on this?
Yeah, I think about this quite often. To me it takes away from the athleticism of the sport to say that we’re “an inspiration.” It comes across as, “good for you for being here, for participating.” It certainly doesn’t come from a bad place and I appreciate that but I think it often comes across as good for us for just being out, good for us for just putting on our skis, whereas it’s so much more than that for us. It should be good for us for winning that gold medal and beating the next guy, not for just being involved. Anybody can be involved. It’s just as hard for us to be involved as for you to be involved.

Growing up, was there anything you felt you couldn’t do that other kids were doing?
I always thought I could do anything. I don’t really have a lot of memories of thinking I couldn’t do something. I had a very stubborn attitude that if someone else was going to do it, I definitely was going to do it. In retrospect sometimes things took me a little more time to learn. I couldn’t just watch someone and copy their actions. Sometimes I had to modify their movements and do it in my own way, but I certainly don’t think there was anything that I couldn’t do.

Your grandfather Art Davis stopped pucks for the Chicago Blackhawks. Do you have athlete genes in you?
It’s a good question. I’d say for sure athletics are part of my genes. My whole family is active. My dad is very passionate about skiing and was instrumental in getting me started and my brother competes in duathlon.

What’s the most grueling part of your training regiment?
Dry land training is the least rewarding as far as instant gratification. It’s one of those things you work at, and work at, and work at. There are a lot of days where you just don’t feel like going to the gym. Training on snow is fun because I’m doing what I love doing—which is skiing.

What’s your forecast for Turin?
I don’t like to predict medal colours or numbers but I definitely hope to match the performance I did in Salt Lake. My goal is to be on the podium in every event.

How would you describe the way you tackle the slopes?
Aggressive. Confident. I’ve been on the circuit for eight years now and so I have enough experience to be confident in my skiing and I think that shows. I’m quite an aggressive, confident and stubborn person in general and that comes out on the ski hill. I go for it every race. I don’t just let it happen, I make sure I make it happen.

What do you think of Bode Miller’s controversial go-for-broke aggression, he always seems to be on the verge of crashing?
I’m a fan of his skiing. I like that attitude and I think in a sport where hundredths of seconds make or break your day, you have to have that attitude. It’s like what I was saying, you have to make it happen. You can’t just sit back and hope for a win.

There will be only 24 medals in Alpine skiing in Turin as opposed to the 53 awarded in Salt Lake City due to the streamlining of the disability classification system. How do you view the change?
Our World Cup has always been run under a three-class system so it’s just world championships and past Paralympics that have gone by the multi-class system system. I think the majority of athletes feel that less medals increases the competition and increases the value of a [podium finish]. It’s also a lot easier for spectators to follow and it makes the sport a lot more streamlined. The women’s category is a pretty small field so it doesn’t change things a whole lot for us but I think it’s a huge improvement overall.

Copyright © Mike Dojc, 2006

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