Paralympic skier named to 2 halls of fame

Vail Valley's Sarah Will earns US Ski Team and Olympic honor

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— The Vail Valley's Sarah Will heard this week that she's being inducted into the U.S. Ski Team Hall of Fame and the Olympic Hall of Fame.

"It's been kind of a whirlwind," said Will, who lives in Edwards. "It's also an honor to be in there with other people from this community."

She said it's an honor to be recognized along with local Greg Mannino, of Eagle, who was nominated for the Olympic Hall of Fame this year, as well. There are several other athletes who were finalists who Will said she has always looked up to.

"I'm proud to be put in the same category as they are," she said. "It's an amazing class to be inducted with."

U.S. Ski Team great Picabo Street and skiing veteran Andrea Mead Lawrence join Will as members of the Class of 2009 inductees into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame, the U.S. Olympic Committee announced Tuesday.

The U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame is the only national sports hall of fame that uses fan voting as part of its selection process. This year's U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame class is comprised of five Olympians, one Paralympian, as well as three additional individuals: a coach, veteran and a special contributor.

"Andrea, Picabo and Sarah are three of the greatest ski racers of all time," said USSA President and CEO Bill Marolt. "Their accomplishments as athletes have inspired generations of aspiring Olympians. It is a great honor for them, as well as for our sport, to be recognized in the Olympic Hall of Fame."

Sarah Will had her first run of the mountain at the age of four. From that moment on, she was hooked on the sport. In 1988, the Olympic skiing hopeful was in a serious skiing accident that paralyzed her from the waist down.

Rather than give up the sport she loved, she took up mono skiing and was back on the slopes just one year later. Four years after her start in the monoski, she competed in her first Paralympic Games, winning gold in downhill and super G in 1992 in Albertville, France.

"It's one of those experiences where you feel not only proud of your accomplishments, but also proud to be among so many athletes who really dedicated their lives to their sport," Will said about her nomination. "It's an honor to be in there with people who have been pioneers and who have made sports what they are today. I congratulate all the other athletes who were nominated."

Will won a total of 12 Paralympic gold medals and one silver medal throughout her four Paralympic experiences, making her the most decorated female mono skier in U.S. Ski Team history. In 2002, Will took the Paralympic alpine skiing gold medal sweep, winning all four races, along with the U.S. Paralympic Spirit Award.

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