Who is Paralympic Alpine skier Thomas Walsh?
Born Jan. 30, 1995 in Vail, Colo. Inspired by his mother, a ski instructor, Walsh started skiing at 2 and racing at 5.
Walsh’s first ski coach was Eileen Shiffrin, the mother of 2014 Olympic slalom champion Mikaela Shiffrin. The younger Shiffrin attended preschool with Walsh, and they remain close friends.
The day before a 14-year-old Walsh was set to move to the East Coast in 2009 to attend a ski academy in Vermont, he was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer that developed in his pelvis and lungs. 14 months after the initial diagnosis, he was declared cancer-free.
2014 Olympics. Walsh, who was in Sochi thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, was inspired watching Shiffrin compete. He realized how much he missed the sport, and after doing some research, discovered that he was eligible to compete in the standing classification of Para Alpine skiing due to a limb deficiency.
Walsh, who grew up taking ballet and dance lessons, is as confident on the dance floor as he is on the slopes. He took Shiffrin to his prom in 2012:
Walsh: “I was diagnosed with cancer, and life was turned upside down. And I didn't really know what was going to happen. And through the mess of all of it, I learned that I can still have the same dream. But instead of saying Olympics, I say Paralympics now.”
Off the mountain
Walsh lists three-time Olympian Steven Nyman as an idol. While Walsh was in the hospital receiving chemotherapy, Nyman visited and presented Walsh with the race bib he wore at the 2006 Torino Games.
Walsh, who studied performing arts at the Savannah College of Art and Design, enjoys acting and writing. He is also pursuing an MBA.