LINCOLN, New Hampshire ??вЂќ Four athletes who got their start at New Hampshire’s Loon Mountain are on their way to the 2006 Paralympic Games at Torino. U.S. Disabled Ski Team members Chris Devlin-Young, Laurie Stephens, Tyler Walker and Andrew Parr are looking for gold in Torino from March 10 – 19.
Veteran mono-skier Chris Devlin-Young will lead the team in Torino as a 14 year veteran of the U.S. Disabled Ski Team and prior Paralympic gold medalist in two different classes. Devlin-Young, a 44-year old Campton, NH local will make his third appearance at the games and competing in all Alpine Skiing events at the 2006 games. Devlin-Young was paralyzed from the knees down and partially paralyzed at the waist after a plane crash while serving in Alaska with the Coast Guard in 1982. If being named the ?2003 Disabled Skier of the Year’ from Ski Racing Magazine wasn’t enough, Devlin-Young was also the ’05 World Cup Super-G champ, ’05 World Cup GS runner-up, ’05 X Games Sit-Skier Mono-Cross champ and Paralympic gold and silver medalist.
Laurie Stephens has gone straight to the top as a member of the U.S. Disabled Ski Team member in only 3 years. In ?04 she won every giant slalom race on the World Cup circuit, was the U.S. downhill Super G gold medalist and was the World Cup overall and giant slalom champion. In ?05 she swept all World Cup titles; Overall, SG, GS and SL, and added an X-Games gold medal. Stephens also holds the U.S. disabled swimming records in the 100-meter and 200-meter backstroke. Stephens was born with spinal bifida and started skiing at 12 when a disabled group went to Loon Mountain. She got turned onto racing at 15 when she joining Chris Devlin-Young’s New England Disabled Ski Team. Stephens is currently a student at U.N.H focusing on Therapeutic Recreation.
Tyler Walker, the youngest of the three, is only 19-years old and began skiing in adaptive programs at Waterville Valley and Loon Mountain. Walker eventually joined the New England Disabled Ski Team, where he trained under Chris Devlin-Young, and was accepted as a member of the U.S. Disabled Ski Team in 2004. Walker, a Franconia, NH local, is currently first in the 2006 World Cup standings in GS, third overall, and placed second at the Winter X-Games just behind mentor Devlin-Young. In addition, Walker was the runner-up in ?04 for mono-ski GS points and the runner-up in ’05 World Cup Overall and GS points. Walker suffers from a birth defect know as lumbar sacral agenesis, where he was born with his spine missing after the first vertebra. At the age of 4, doctors amputated both legs at the knee because he had no control over his legs. Walker is also attending U.N.H with fellow teammate Laurie Stephens.
Visually impaired Andy Parr is the last member of the U.S. Disabled Ski Team who got his start at the White Mountain Adaptive Program at Loon Mountain under the training of Chris Devlin-Young. Parr is a 27 year old legally blind downhill skier who was diagnosed with a rare form of non age-related macular degeneration, known as Stargardts Disease, at the age of 18. Although Parr has a permanent haze that obscures his depth perception and clouds his central vision, he is still a dominating racer who won two medals at the ’02 Paralympics Games, was the ’00 U.S. champ in DH/GS, placed in the top 3 in world cups in ’01 and earned three top-5s in his ’05 return to the World Cup Circuit. Parr is currently the coach of the N.E. Disabled Ski Team at Loon Mountain.
“Our White Mountain Adaptive Program has done an exceptional job with its racing program” said General Manager Rick Kelley. “We’re extremely honored to have all four athletes representing the United States and Loon Mountain.”