Laurie Stephens poses with her gold medal after the women's sitting giant slalom in Lillehammer. (Photo: Alex Livesey)
LILLEHAMMER, NORWAY – Four-time Paralympian Laurie Stephens (Wenham, Massachusetts) earned the second world championship title of her career on Thursday morning, taking home gold in the women’s sitting giant slalom competition at the Lillehammer 2021 World Para Snow Sports Championships. Already a six-time Paralympic medalist, the win is Stephens’ 14th career world championship medal.
As the U.S. Paralympics Alpine Skiing team competes for world titles with its focus on the Paralympic Games Beijing 2022 in March, head coach Tony McAllister saw the victory as a confidence booster for Stephens.
“For Laurie, this will provide her with confidence heading into Beijing,” McAllister said. “The nature of the race today, it really just shows that anything can happen in ski racing.”
In a wild finish, Stephens threw down a stellar second run to jump from third to first position in the waning seconds of competition. After Stephens’ run of 1:35.62 pushed her ahead of Canada’s Katie , German Anna-Lena Forster needed a clean run to keep the 14-second lead that she held over the rest of the field following the first run. The last athlete to ski, Forster was unable to complete her run, skidding off course in the final turns for a DNF propelling Stephens to a dramatic win.
Stephens is one of the most successful women’s sitting Para alpine athletes in the world, but had previously recorded DNFs in the downhill and super-G competitions at Lillehammer before returning to form today. Her combined time of 3:10.09 in the giant slalom topped the field by almost a full second.
Paralympic hopeful Allie Johnson (Chicago, Illinois) also recorded her first result in Lillehammer with an 11th-place finish in the women’s standing giant slalom race. Relatively new to adaptive skiing, the 25-year-old is competing in world championships debut as she attempts to qualify for the Winter Games.
“This is fantastic for Allie,” McAllister said. “She is here looking to make progress and learn more about what ski racing in Europe is like, and she’s doing a great job. It was really exciting to see her get that finish today.”
Para alpine skiing resumes on Jan. 21 with the men’s slalom race followed by women’s slalom on Jan. 22. All events will be streamed live on the U.S. Paralympics Alpine Skiing Facebook Page. Follow U.S. Paralympics Alpine Skiing on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for daily updates from Lillehammer.
For media requests and photo inquiries, please contact Kristen Gowdy at Kristen.Gowdy@usopc.org.