This interview with my soft-spoken teammate, Laurie Stephens, appeared in the latest monthly e-mail newsletter from USSA:
SPOTLIGHT ON 'THE BEST': Paralympic Champ Laurie Stephens
The 2006 season was another successful year for highly decorated
sit-skier Laurie Stephens (LW-12/1; Wenham, MA). She won seven of
12 World Cup races and collected three more World Cup titles. At
the Paralympics she won two gold medals and a silver. Born with
spinal bifida, Stephens recently was honored by the U.S. Olympic
Committee as 2005 Paralympian of the Year, the first winter sport
athlete so honored.
USSA: You did it again - walloped everyone on the World Cup
schedule, including six wins in a row, then dominated the
Paralympics, too. How do you do it?
Laurie Stephens: I don't really know. I just go out - it's kind
of the same each time, just go out there and ski, and whatever
happens happens. ...I'm definitely competitive. I've always been
competitive in the sports I did.
USSA: Is it sports psychology stuff, mental training and imagery
to get yourself revved up before each race?
LS: Not really. I like skiing and like going out there every
race and trying to ski better. It's kind of my main focus. I
don't know how it works, but something works. ...I tend to
listen to music at the start. Nothing in particular, but it
helps me get ready. It blocks out the distractions and anything
that would get to me before a race.
USSA: This was your third season on the Ski Team, and you had
plenty of success, thumping everyone again. What was the coolest
part of this season?
LS: The Paralympics were probably the highlight. I'd never
competed in the Paralympics and getting that opportunity was
such an honor. The racing was cool. Everyone was at a really
high level, everyone was pushing it. Borgata was an awesome
course and the snow was really good.
USSA: You're at such a high performance level to maintain. Any
surprises about the season and your skiing?
LS: The whole Paralympic thing was kind of a surprise. I figured
the pressure would have gotten to me. I know a lot of things I
need to work on and change for next season - slalom, in
particular. I hope to work on that stuff this summer.