Who is Paralympic Alpine skier Danelle Umstead?
Born Feb. 15, 1972 in Des Plaines, Ill. At 13, Umstead was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic eye condition that resulted in total blindness. Her father, Peter, introduced her to blind skiing in 2000, and she said the sport “gave my life new meaning.” Peter served as his daughter’s first guide.
The sport helped her meet her husband, Rob. They were introduced on the slopes the day after she moved to New Mexico. She describes her husband as “my best friend, the father of my child, my eyes on and off the slopes.”
Umstead made her Paralympic debut at the 2010 Winter Games, claiming a bronze medal in both downhill and super combined.
Four years later, she won another super combined bronze medal. She also finished top-five in downhill, slalom and super-G.
Partnering with her husband. After the couple moved from New Mexico to Utah, Umstead struggled to find a consistent guide. Rob agreed to become his wife’s full-time guide in 2008, and in 2010, helped her win two Paralympic medals.
Umstead has a guide dog, Aziza:
Umstead: “Imagine what it’s like to ski down mountains at 70 miles per hour. Now imagine what it's like to do that blind. This is what I do.”
2014: Bronze (super combined)
2010: Bronze (downhill) and bronze (super combined)
Off the mountain
Umstead travels the world working as a motivational speaker. She reveals her “four secrets to leading and empowering teams to overcome obstacles and go for the gold.”
She has a son, Brocton, who enjoys playing hockey and basketball. She wears keeps a photo of her son next to her heart during every race.
She spends two hours daily working on gardening projects during the summer.