NSCD athletes head to Paralympics
After just three years of ski racing, Fraser resident and para alpine skier Allie Johnson is taking her skills on the slopes to Beijing for the 2022 Paralympics.
Johnson joins eight other athletes from the National Sports Center for the Disabled, who will compete on various US Paralympic teams this year. The Paralympics opening ceremonies are today, with competitions starting Saturday.
Competing on the men’s sitting para alpine ski team are athletes Jasmin Bambur, Andrew Kurka, Kyle Taulman, Robert Enigl and David Williams. Tyler Carter and Patrick Halgren are on the men’s standing para alpine ski team, while Joy Rondeau will compete in women’s biathlon and cross country skiing.
Johnson, who is a congenital amputee of the right arm below the elbow, will compete in the Giant Slalom, Slalom, Super Combined and the Super G, her favorite event. Johnson’s first event will be the Super G on Sunday evening.
“(In Super G), you have a little bit more time to think with each turn,” she said. “That event makes me the most alive.”
Though Johnson grew up skiing and volunteering at the NSCD, where her grandparents also volunteer, she didn’t get into competitions until more recently. Johnson’s now coach Scott Olson encouraged her to go for it after working with her at the NSCD for several years.
“Growing up with a disability there’s a lot of people who don’t think you’ll be good at sports and I like to be able to prove people wrong,” said Johnson. “(My disability) is something that’s grown to be my favorite part of myself because it’s the reason I get to do all this.”
Johnson said she feels very lucky to be headed to the largest stage to compete in her sport and cheer on her teammates.
Johnson added her favorite part of competing has been the atmosphere and camaraderie among the athletes.
“I feel lucky to even be sharing the same stage as these women who are amazing at what they do and they’re super inspirational,” she said. “You’ll see two competitors, like in a parallel event, and every single person would get to the bottom and high-five or fist bump the person they raced against.”
Coming off competitions at the World Cup and World Championships, where Johnson placed 10th in Super G and 11th in Giant Slalom, Johnson said she has a better idea of what to expect for the Paralympics, whether that’s the nerves or the difference in snow.
Prior to flying to Beijing, Johnson said she was training daily with the NSCD and Mountain Life Fitness, while also preparing mentally. She said the support she has received from the NSCD, Mountain Life Fitness and Grand Elk, where she works, has been crucial to her.
“I really want to push myself skiing-wise because I think I have a lot more to show,” Johnson said. “I do my best skiing when I’m enjoying every second of it.”
NSCD Competition Director Erik Petersen said he was looking forward to watching so many athletes from the NSCD compete.
In addition to about 80% of US Paralympic athletes, the NSCD has four Paralympians from Chile, three each from New Zealand and Britain, and one from Israel.
“We get them prepared to perform to the best of their abilities … and I’m looking forward to seeing them compete,” Petersen said. “I hope they enjoy the environment and the challenges that come with the competition.”
The 2022 Paralympics will be streamed on NBC and Peacock. For more information about the schedule, go to http://www.paralympic.org/beijing-2022/schedule.
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