Carving New Paths

May/June 2002

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Side by side photos of Davis and Pearl

PARALYMPIANS: Davis (left) and Pearl both won medals. Photos: AP Worldwide

The first time Muffy Davis heard about the sport in which she would later become a star, she was in a rehab hospital, recovering from a broken back sustained while skiing in 1989. A previously accomplished skier, she wasn’t interested in adaptive skiing; at the time, she says, it struck her as a poor substitute. But after a season off the slopes, Davis, who began skiing at age 3 and racing at 7, changed her mind. She signed up for lessons on a monoski, a single board mounted on a frame called an “outrigger” and equipped with a motorcycle shock absorber. “It was fun to get back out there,” she recalls, “but it wasn’t skiing.” Five years later, after hundreds of hours of intense training and frustration, Davis, ’95, finally coaxed the monoski into a good carve. It felt like the old days, she says.

Her career went downhill from there, so to speak. In February, competing in her second Paralympics, Davis captured silver medals in the super-G and giant slalom events for monoskiers in Park City, Utah. Teammate and Stanford medical researcher Allison Pearl won the gold medal for monoskiers in the giant slalom.

Now, Davis is giving up competitive skiing, but she won’t abandon the mountains altogether. This spring, she and three other paraplegics—using hand cranks and 42 gears in a specially designed “snow pod”—will climb 14,000-foot Mount Shasta.

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