Thursday, April 02, 2009

The passing of a legend.




One of the greatest women skiers of all time has passed away. Andrea Mead Lawrence, the only US woman to win two gold medals in one Olympics, died from cancer at her home in Mammoth Lakes, CA, on March 31.

Born in Rutland, Vermont, in 1932, Lawrence grew up skiing at Pico, the resort founded by her parents. She competed in three Winter games, her first when she was just 15-years old, and was captain of the women's team during the 1952 games in Oslo, Norway, where she won gold in the slalom and giant slalom.

"When I got into the starting gate, it was like a deep, dark, still pool of black water, which is a metaphor and it's a very powerful metaphor," she said during an interview last month with Vermont Public Radio of winning the slalom run. "And when the count came down, I just went like a bullet down the course."

Bud Greenspan, a filmmaker known for his Olympic documentaries, chose Lawrence as “the greatest Winter Olympian of all time.” He based his choice on her later civic efforts in California as well as on the sheer excitement of her second victory in 1952.

Lawrence moved to Mammoth Lakes with her children in the mid-1960s and spent her later years as an environmental activist working to protect the Eastern Sierra Nevada. She served 16 years as a Mono County Supervisor, co-founded the Southern Mono Historical Society in 1983 and the Sierra Nevada Alliance.

In 2003, she founded the Andrea Lawrence Institute for Mountains and Rivers, a nonprofit dedicated to environmental planning and education.

I interviewed her daughter, Didi, a fantastic skier in her own right, for my blog in September, 2007. You can find that interview here.

My deepest condolences to Didi and her family.

Be sure to visit TheSkiDiva.com, the online home especially for women skiers, where women skiers can connect with one another to talk about everything and anything ski-related.

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