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Steamboat para Alpine skier has gained confidence and the results are proving it

Steamboat para Alpine skier Paige Van Arsdale won six medals through six races in Winter Park in early April.
Paige Van Arsdale/Courtesy photo

The winter of 2021-22 was all about gaining confidence for Steamboat para Alpine skier Paige Van Arsdale.

She lived on her own for the first time, figuring out a new bus system and cooking for herself, and that boost in confidence translated to her skiing, helping her earn six medals in her last six races of the season at Winter Park earlier this month.

At the USA Alpine Adaptive National Championships, the 22-year-old won silver in giant slalom, bronze in slalom and bronze in her first-ever Super-G race. She also won bronze and a pair of silver medals in a trio of NORAM races that same weekend.



The event didn’t start smoothly for Van Arsdale. She was anxious to race on the first day since the falling snow had been pushed to the edge of the giant slalom course, leaving little wiggle room for anyone skirting wide of the course.

She said she didn’t want to race, but her coach reminded her of the reality of the situation.



“He said, ‘Suck it up, buttercup,’” Van Arsdale said. “And when I was going through the course he said, ‘Buckle up, buttercup.’”

While the phrase usually isn’t an empowering one, Van Arsdale twisted it and envisioned the Powerpuff Girl Buttercup, who is a strong and kick-butt young woman. With that image in her head, she took off down the course and won second in the nationals field.

The next day, she had her first-ever Super-G race. The weather was nicer and Van Arsdale had a whole winter’s worth of confidence behind her, convincing her that she could not only do Super-G, but do it well.

The Steamboat skier lived in Salt Lake City, Utah, for a couple months over the winter. She used the buses to get around and to ski at Park City. She had a few mishaps with the schedule, but soon was a familiar face to the drivers. She also learned how to cook for herself, aided by delivered ingredients. Gaining independence and realizing she could conquer new tasks helped Van Arsdale on the hill.

“At first she used to FaceTime me every evening when she would cook,” said Paige’s mom, Melissa Van Arsdale. “But then she figured it out. All these obstacles she was facing, she was overcoming them.”

Despite never having done it before, Van Arsdale sent it on her first super-G attempt and finished bronze.

Steamboat para Alpine skier Paige Van Arsdale won six medals through six races in Winter Park in early April.
Paige Van Arsdale/Courtesy photo

“I think I like Super-G more than any other event that I’ve skied before. I like feeling the wind in my face. WIth slalom, I’m starting to like slalom too, but I’m trying to learn how to get quicker in the slalom gates. It’s just hard for me to think to be quick on my feet.”

Van Arsdale, who has cerebral palsy, is a standing skier. Cerebral palsy caused a growth dysfunction in her right leg, which surgeries helped correct. Still, Van Arsdale’s gait isn’t always even or smooth. Cerebral palsy also inhibits Van Arsdale’s cognitive abilities. She takes a little longer to get out a sentence, and her reaction time isn’t the same as a neurotypical person.

Long story short, cerebral palsy’s effects make slalom difficult, but she’s been training a lot to improve.

Over the last couple years, Van Arsdale has had her sights on the Beijing Olympics, but didn’t quite make the cut this year. Now, she’s aiming for the 2026 Winter Games in Italy.

The first step in accomplishing that is staying fit and working this summer to help raise money to fund her next winter of competition.


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