Artificial Leg Doesn't Keep Freshman Off the Ski Slopes

Bonnie L. St. John '86 first skied four years ago on a winter vacation trip with a group of friends. She had never considered trying the sport before, she recalls, but after that first time, she says, she was "hooked."

Today St. John is ranked third in her racing class. She has her eye on an upcoming international competition in Austria, and she plans to take next semester off so school work won't distract her during the skiing season.

But the most remarkable fact about St. John's skiing career is that she has had an artificial leg since she was five.

High Hopes

After she returned from her first skiing trip. St. John contacted the National Handicapped Sports and Recreational Association, which helped her find special equipment and arranged lessons for her. Two years ago, she began racing, and this fall, she is training to make the U.S. national handicapped Olympic team, which will go to the 1984 Handicapped Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria.

Throughout her years of skiing, St. John has received financial backing and moral encouragement from the National Brotherhood of Skiers, a coalition of Black skiing clubs. In addition, she regularly receives skis from the Rossignol company, which gives away mismatched skis to amputees.

An energetic, talkative San Diego native, St John insists her artificial leg is not a handicap for her Remembering her first day on skis, she says. "I was apprehensive only because I was just learning The people I was with were great skiers and I didn't want to let a beginner hold them back"

Her roommate E. Anne Beal '86 also downplays St. John's unusual condition. "She's not really impaired at all." Beal says. "She rides her bike, she dances, she studies--she has more coordination on one leg than I have on two."