U.S. DISABLED TEAM RACER BIOGRAPHIES


The 2007-08 U.S. Disabled Ski Team competitor biographies
The 2007-08 U.S. Disabled Ski Team competitor biographies

Men’s A Team

Bob Balk
Discipline: Cross country (sit-ski)
Age: 41
Equipment/sponsors: Fischer, Swix
The story: In 1988, he slipped off the roof of a fraternity house and became paralyzed below the waist. He was a rugby player before the accident.
Career: Balk hasn’t balked at his disability. He’s been in seven Paralympics, including three Summer Games as a pentathlete. He’s won two 2002 Paralympics silver medals, gold and silver medals at 2000 worlds, bronze in the 1998 Paralympics 10k, and in 1994, he swept the U.S. championships
Last season: He took a break from competing to help his wife raise their triplets, who were born just after the 2006 Torino Games. They live in Long Beach, California.
Looking ahead: “Bob is returning to the team after taking last season off,” said coach Jon Kreamelmeyer. “He’s been working hard to regain his physical conditioning, and mentally he’s ready.”
Off the hill: Sit-ski designer and venture capital investor.

Sean Halsted
Discipline: Cross country (sit-ski)
Age: 38
The story: While serving in the Air Force in 1998, Washington native Sean Halsted fell 40 feet out of a helicopter while on fastrope.
Career: Discovered nordic skiing at a Veterans Administration Winter Sports Clinic in 2001. His best results were third in 15k and third in middle distance at 2007 U.S. nationals.
Last season: Only second year at the international level, Halsted didn’t break into the top 10 on the World Cup circuit. He did, however, best half the field in each start.
Looking ahead: “Sean’s a former rower for Washington State,” said coach Jon Kreamelmeyer. “He certainly understands what it takes to be competitive. He’s been training hard, getting his equipment dialed in, and I believe he’ll be pushing his teammates.”
Off the hill: Spending time with twins Rileigh and Ethan. Wants to get a multi-engine pilots license and possibly start instructing.

Chris Klebl
Discipline: Cross country (sit-ski)
Age: 35 (turning 36 on Jan. 5)
Equipment/sponsors: Fischer, Capricorn Sitskis, Exel, Oakley, Time Warner Cable, Red Bull, Powerbar
The story: Skied and snowboarded while growing up in Austria, but a cliff-jumping accident while snowboarding in 1995 left him paralyzed from the waist down.
Career: Klebl is now living near Park City, Utah, and is a sit-skier cross-country racer. Teammate Monica Bascio, whom he knew from handcycling, introduced Klebl to cross country skiing. His first World Cup competitions were in 2005, and since then he has made some big waves — especially last season.
Last season: Won seven second-place finishes on the World Cup tour, including his first win at the season finale at Mount Washington, Canada. He ended the year second in the World Cup standings.
Looking ahead: Hard work should pay off. Last summer he had an intensive training schedule that included roller-ski training in St George, Utah, for May, June, July and September, 3 1/2 weeks of skiing in New Zealand in August and four weeks of training in the ski tunnel in Vuokatti, Finland, in October. “Chris had a breakout season last year ending up second in overall World Cup points,” said coach Jon Kreamelmeyer. “He expects a lot from himself and I anticipate he’ll be on the podium again this season.”
Off the hill: Enjoys listening to music and watching “Lost” on ABC.
What most people don’t know: He loves olives.
Learn more: www.chrisklebl.com

Greg Mallory    
Discipline: Cross country (sit-ski)
Age: 39
Equipment/sponsors: Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt law firm
The story: Mallory was in his final semester of law school when he skied over a cliff and fractured his L1 vertebra, putting him in a wheelchair.
Career: The Portland, Oregon, native had never tried cross-country skiing until his accident, but he added it to handcycling and kayaking as a way to stay fit in the winter. Finished 2004 World Cup season with three top 10s, went to the 2005 worlds and 2006 Paralympics, but his breakthrough came in 2006-07.
Last season: Mallory got his first World Cup podium during the final sprint event of the season at Mount Washington, Canada. He also nabbed the U.S. middle distance title in Houghton, Michigan, during the U.S. championships.
Looking ahead: Coaches are excited about his progression and have put together a new training schedule to push him further. “Greg’s attitude and personality plus his competitive spirit adds a great dimension to our team,” said coach Jon Kreamelmeyer. “Last season in the World Cup finals, he podiumed with a gold in the sprint. I believe he can be there again this year.”
Off the hill: Works as a lawyer for the Portland legal firm Schwabe, Williamson&Wyatt, and usually handcycles, paddles or roller-skis to the office.

Monte Meier
Discipline: Alpine (standup)
Age: 36
Equipment/sponsors: Rossignol, Bolle, The Home Depot, Comcast Cable
The story: Meier lost his right leg in a garden-tilling accident at 8 years old.
Career: Meier has accomplished plenty as a 15-year veteran of the U.S. Disabled Ski Team. He started ski racing as a one-legger in high school. After winning three medals at the 1992 Canadian nationals, he was named to the 1993 U.S. Ski Team, and since then he has been to four Paralympics receiving the 1998 Paralympics slalom gold and GS silver and 2002 Paralympics slalom silver.
Last season: Took much of the season off to heal from a bone fragment in his knee. He lives in Park City, Utah.
Looking ahead: Coach Ray Watkins said he was skiing well during the prep season, but the key is to make sure he is fresh for every event. “He’s a great team leader,” Watkins said. “He was elected team captain. I would look for him to be really good in slalom, super G and combined events.”
Off the hill: Biking, golfing, fishing and bow hunting.

Andrew Soule
Discipline: Cross country (sit-ski)
Age: 28
The story: The enlisted military veteran went to Afghanistan following Sept. 11, 2001. There an Improvised Explosive Device took both of his legs.
Career: Experienced snowsports for the first time when he attended a cross-country recruitment camp in Sun Valley, Idaho, in 2005. As for international races, last season was his first experiencing them.
Last season: A silver medal at the U.S. nationals and two consecutive top-10s in his first World Cup races earned him a spot on the U.S. Ski Team.
Looking ahead: “Andy is the newest member of our team,” said coach Jon Kreamelmeyer. “He’s an Afghan vet with tremendous physical strength. There’s no doubt in my mind that he’ll be competitive in the world.”
What most people don’t know: A graduate of Texas A&M with a bachelor’s of arts in history where he was a part of the cadet program.

Brad Washburn
Discipline: Alpine (standup)
Age: 21
The story: Washburn lost his leg below the knee when he was 11 months old.
Career: He made the Paralympic team in 2006, but 2007 was his first
action on the World Cup.
Last season: He has some bragging rights for posting the best results of any American in the standup class on both the World Cup and NorAm circuits. He accrued multiple World Cup top 10s and his first national title with a slalom gold medal at the U.S. nationals. He also got second in GS at nationals.
Looking ahead: “The only thing that he hasn’t done is win [a World Cup],” sa
id coach Ray Watkins. “He has a really great touch for gliding, it’s just a matter of experience for him. He should be top 3.”
Off the hill: Enjoys mountain biking, rock climbing and backpacking in the Colorado mountains (he lives in Littleton). His goal is to climb all 54 peaks over 14,000 feet. So far, he has climbed 11.
What most people don’t know: At SkiTAM, the annual fundraiser for the U.S. Disabled Ski Team, Washburn offered to shave his red locks for the cause. The bidding exceeded $10,000.

Women’s A Team   

Monica Bascio
Discipline: Cross country (sit-ski)
Age: 38
Equipment/sponsors: Fischer, Capricorn, Time Warner Business Class
The story: Bascio was paralyzed from the waist down following a downhill skiing accident in 1992.
Career: Bascio started as a handcyclist, but switched to cross-country skiing when her event was cut from the Paralympics. She has tallied a few podiums: second in 10k at 2004 World Cup finals, first in 10k at 2006 nationals and first in 2007 U.S. long distance.
Last season: After winning the U.S. long distance title, she took some time off due to the birth of her first child in July.
Off the hill: Loves training days at the Frisco Nordic Center near her hometown Evergreen, Colorado, as well as playing with dogs Frank and Jack.
Looking ahead: “Monica took last season off during her pregnancy,” said coach Jon Kreamelmeyer. “She’s returned with renewed enthusiasm and is ready to challenge the women’s sit-ski field.”
What most people don’t know: She has a degree in occupational therapy from San Jose State University.
Learn more: www.monicabascio.com

Allison Jones
Discipline: Alpine (standup)
Age: 23
Equipment/sponsors: Fischer, Nordica, Carrera
The story: Born without a right femur.
Career: Jones learned the ropes of alpine early on during family ski outings. Since then, she’s been a Paralympics medalist, three-time worlds gold medalist, former World Cup title holder and current national champion.
Last season: Took off the season to focus on her studies at the University of Denver.
Looking ahead: Coaches are hopeful that Jones will pick up were she left off after winning 2006 Paralympic gold in slalom. “Allison has been juggling cycling and ski racing,” said coach Ray Watkins. “She could probably be the top at both sports. Being a two-sport athlete is amazingly difficult, [but] she has enough talent and skill to be the best in the world.”
Off the hill: Jones enjoys cycling and competed in the 2004 Summer Paralympics and hopes to duplicate that effort in 2008. She also likes surfing the Net, building things and eating ice cream.
What most people don’t know: She wants to design and build prosthetics to help others find the freedom of movement.

Stephani Victor
Discipline: Alpine (sit-ski)
Age: 38
Equipment/sponsors: Rossignol, Uvex, Deer Valley Resort, Zermatt Bergbahnen, Starz!
The story: As Victor was loading her car in 1995, an out-of-control automobile veered into a driveway and pinned her against her car. Both legs were amputated above the knee.
Career: The Park City, Utah, resident is unstoppable and likely has the last name Victor for a reason. She’s won two Paralympic medals (bronze at 2002 Salt Lake Games and gold at 2006 Torino Games), a world championship and two World Cup titles, and in 2007 she dominated the tour.
Last season: Won the World Cup overall, World Cup slalom and giant slalom championship and U.S. GS and slalom. Victor captured seven podiums, including four wins on the World Cup, plus she earned overall titles at both the Huntsman Cup and Winter Park Open. And rightly deserved, she earned Ski Racing’s Disabled Skier of the Year honors.
Off the hill: Actress and motivational speaker. She’s even made a documentary about her story called “The Lengths I Will Go.”
Looking ahead: She has been rehabbing a troublesome elbow and shoulder, and coaches want her back 100-percent healthy. “She basically had the season of her career last year,” said coach Ray Watkins. “The only way she could top that is winning the super G and downhill title.”
What most people don’t know: While promoting a role in a movie during the Sundance Film Festival in 1999, she took her first disabled ski lesson from now husband Marcel Kuonen.
Learn more: www.stephanivictor.com

Women’s B Team

Laurie Stephens
Discipline: Alpine (sit-ski)
Age: 23
Equipment/sponsors: Uvex, Head, Kevin Bramble Goodz, Turner Networks
The story: Born with spinal bifida. Stephens started as a swimmer by turned to skiing at 12.
Career: She received an ESPY Nomination for Best Female Athlete with a Disability and a Women's Sports Foundation nomination for Sportswoman of the Year following the 2006 season where she was Paralympian of the Year — nabbing downhill and super G gold and GS silver — and World Cup super G and GS overall champion.
Last season: Stephens posted three World Cup wins and two other podiums to take the super G globe for the third straight season.
Looking ahead: “One globe for her was a big disappointment last year, and she’s looking to change that,” said coach Ray Watkins. “Laurie let’s her skis do the talking and she plans on doing that [again].”
Off the hill: Just graduated, majoring in therapeutic recreation from the University of New Hampshire.

Men’s B Team

Carl Burnett
Alpine (sit-ski)
Age: 26
Equipment/sponsors: Völkl, Praschberger, Shred, Charter Communications
The story: Burnett was paralyzed below the waist in a car crash when he was 5.
Career: The standout junior racer got involved in ski racing at age 12. At 15, he swept the junior national titles.
Last season: Even as a speed specialist, he climbed to ninth in the overall World Cup standings in slalom, and podiumed in eight out of 10 NorAm races. Plus, he placed 5th in super G at the World Cup Finals in Zoncolan, Italy.
Looking ahead: “He’s one of those guys who is just a couple hundredths off from getting his first World Cup podium,” said coach Ray Watkins. He said dialing in the details would help Burnett, specifically in the areas of equipment and conditioning.
Off the hill: Huge music fan, and a must have on the road is his iPod portable speakers.
What most people don’t know: The Dartmouth grad who studied linguistics now edits a dictionary of skiing terminology at www.skidictionary.com.

Gerald Hayden
Discipline: Alpine (sit-ski)
Age: 27
Equipment/sponsors: Atomic, Rudy Project
The story: In 1995, he was partially paralyzed from the waist down when a car he was in collided with another.
Career: The 2006-07 season was his first full season on the U.S. Ski Team.
Last season: Three consecutive podiums at the Winter Park Open in February. He finished the year with his first podium at the U.S. nationals with a silver medal in slalom.
Looking ahead: “First year on the team last year, went right from C team to B team,” said coach Ray Watkins. “A student of the sport, he has the potential to win like everyone else.”
Off the hill: A huge fan of reading, especially John Steinbeck.
What most people don’t know: A 2003 graduate of University of California at Davis with a degree in economics.

Men’s C Team

Chris Devlin-Young
Discipline: Alpine (sit-ski)
Age: 46 (turning 47 Dec. 26)
Equipment/sponsors: Elan, Uvex, Aspen Seating, Samsung Electronics North America r />The story: A 1982 plane crash paralyzed Devlin-Young below the waist while he was serving in Alaska with the Coast Guard.
Career: There’s a reason Ski Racing picked Devlin-Young as the 2003 and 2004 Disabled Skier of the Year and why he was chosen for the California Sport Hall of Fame. He has a slew of accolades over a 16-year period of competing that include the first to win Paralympics gold in two classes (LW-1 and LW12-1), 1994 Paralympics slalom gold, 2005 X Games Sit-skier MonoCross winner, 2006 Paralympic downhill silver medalist and 2006 World Cup overall runner-up, among many others.
Last season: Stormed the 2007 NorAm season with podium finishes at the Hartford Ski Spectacular, The Huntsman Cup and the Winter Park Open. He also nabbed a double gold in slalom and GS at the Hartford U.S. Disabled Alpine Championships, which highlighted the season.
Looking ahead: “Didn’t have the best season last year, he’s got a lot to prove,” said coach Ray Watkins. “He should be finishing.”
Off the hill: Founded the New England Disabled Ski Team and builds wheelchair-accessible furniture in his free time.
What most people don’t know: He was the first sit-skier to ride a snowboard, and now manufactures and sells the boards.

Roger Lee
Discipline: Alpine (sit-ski)
Age: 44 (turns 45 on Jan. 4)
Equipment/sponsors: KBG, K2, SuperLite, Alpina, Scientific Atlanta/Cisco, Bearing Point, Chuck Clayton Insurance Agency
The story: Paralyzed in a 1983 car accident.
Career: Lee didn’t take his first sit-ski lesson until age 31. He was a 2006 Paralympian and hopes to bounce back after an injury last season and make a run at the 2010 Paralympics.
Last season: Injured shoulder in October, which put a dent in his season.
Looking ahead: “Skied really well this summer,” said coach Ray Watkins. “He doesn’t have a big window, he’s got to get it done.”
Off the hill: Enjoys waterskiing and making ceramics.
What most people don’t know: Plans on taking a job in the computer programming filed after ski racing.

George Sansonetis
Discipline: Alpine (standup)
Age: 35
Equipment/sponsors:
The story: Suffers from a neurological disorder called dystonia.
Career: He’s been a solid competitor on the World Cup scene especially in speed events, particularly the super G. He podiumed twice at the 1998 Paralympics and won a few national championships.
Last season: Sansonetis captured a couple of World Cup top-10 finishes in 2007, but the season was highlighted by the Hartford U.S. nationals where he grabbed back-to-back NorAm wins in slalom and giant slalom. Then, to top it off, he won his first U.S. title in slalom.
Looking ahead: “Didn’t have the best season last year, conditioning was a big factor in that,” said coach Ray Watkins. He got married this summer … the honeymoon is over, it’s time to get back and kick some butt on the World Cup.”
Off the hill: He enjoys playing in the mountains whether it’s camping, hiking, mountain biking, fishing or hunting.

Women’s C Team

Elitsa Storey
Discipline: Alpine (standup)
Age: 20 (turning 21 on Dec. 26)
Equipment/sponsors: Atomic
The story: Birth defect.
Career: Named to the ski team in 2005 but still had to juggle high school classes. She managed and proved herself to the world, placing in the top 10 in all four races in the 2006 Paralympics.
Last season: Storey made big strides, earning ninth place in the overall World Cup standings. She also took the giant slalom and slalom wins at the U.S. nationals and nabbed multiple podiums on the NorAm circuit.
Looking ahead: “She’s balancing school and competing,” said coach Ray Watkins. “She’s one of the most technically gifted skiers we have. Conditioning is the big thing with her.”
Off the hill: Likes hanging out with friends and family, plus playing tennis, swimming, waterskiing and camping.
What most people don’t know: Born in Bulgaria, Storey was adopted by a Sun Valley, Idaho, family.

LAUREN'S LENS: Photos from CanadaU.S. FREESTYLE TEAM RACER BIOGRAPHIES

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