SCI Superstar: Alana Nichols

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If you don’t know who Alana Nichols is, you soon will. A Paralympic athlete and the first American woman to win Paralympic medals in both the Summer and Winter Paralympics, she’s ramping up to make a big powdery splash at the Sochi Winter Olympics this February.

Being an athlete on the court or the slopes is only half of what she does. Alana is also a motivational speaker and a two-time ESPY Award winner, speaking on the importance of adapted athletics across the country. A born and bred athlete, learn more about Alana Nichols, an amazing woman destined for even more Paralympic glory.

Why she’s fearless

Growing up in a small town in New Mexico, Alana Nichols was one of those athletic girls who loved the slopes. Each winter to keep her soul happy she would spend it snowboarding in Colorado. And this was how she was injured, breaking her back when she was 17 years old while trying to do a back flip – she over-rotated and landed back-first on a rock, becoming a T10-11 paraplegic.

But only after two years she ready to return to her beloved athletic saddle. In 2002 she was introduced to wheelchair basketball, and that introduction was exactly what she needed. She quickly became incredibly talented at the sport, so much that the University of Arizona gave her a scholarship to play on their team. She studied education (she also has a masters in kinesiology), and by the time the 2004 Summer Paralympics in Athens arrived she was approached by the team asking her to serve as an alternate.

By 2005, Alana had made it on the national wheelchair basketball team, and when the 2008 Beijing Paralympics arrived, she was on the U.S. team, and helped take the women’s team to basketball gold medal glory. But Alana still craved more – downhill skiing.

After the 2008 Paralympics came to a close, she quickly switched training gears and began training for downhill skiing to get ready for the 2010 Vancouver Paralympics. She won gold here as well in both the downhill and giant slalom. She also won silver in the super-G.

What’s next?

We all know what’s next for Alana – the 2014 Sochi Paralympics. She’s still a youngin’ at only 30, and still has at least another Paralympics ahead of her, barring any injuries. She was injured pretty badly earlier this year while at a race in Oregon, crashing and dislocating her shoulder. Worst pain of her life, she says. Alana was off the slopes for five months.

You have to admire her courage to go back out on the slopes and continue doing what she loves. Injury and injury, she’s returns. You go Ms. Alana Nichols. Can’t wait to see what you do in Sochi. I have no doubt you’ll show the Russians and everyone else once again how a true champion makes her mark at the Paralympic games.

– Visit her site: Alana Jane Nichols

Have you watched Alana ski or play basketball?

Watch her videos!

Alana Nichols: Your Questions Answered

Paralympic downhill skier Alana Nichols discusses overcoming adversity for Citibank

Alana Nichols speaks at the espnW: Women + Sports Summit

Alana Nichols’ gold medal run at the 2010 Vancouver Paralympics

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