For Katrina Schaber, the phrase “going downhill fast” is actually a good thing.
A star on the slopes at age 16, the Canyon Crest Academy junior is the youngest skier on the international Paralympic racing circuit and has won back-to-back Junior National titles.
Katrina, who has cerebral palsy, first skied when she was just 4 years old and will have the opportunity to travel to the Sochi Winter Olympics next month as part of TD Ameritrade’s campaign to send seven 2018 Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls to the 2014 Games. Every mention of the hashtag #ItAddsUp helps generate miles needed to send the hopefuls to Sochi.
“TD Ameritrade is proud to support Team USA and the ‘next generation’ of U.S. Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls by sending them to the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games with mentors who are competing this year,” said Dedra DeLilli, director of marketing and sponsorships of TD Ameritrade. “Katrina is an inspiration and really demonstrates the theme of how overcoming many challenges can add up to great success.”
The mentor Katrina will be paired with is Danielle Umstead, a visually-impaired alpine skier competing in Sochi. Along with Umstead’s husband Rob as her guide, Umstead was a bronze medalist at the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games.
“Rob and I are looking forward to mentoring Kat more and being a part of her journey,” Umstead said. “My message to Kat is never give up on your dreams…put in the hard work and always have fun.”
Katrina was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when she was 8.
“Being a lot weaker physically and mentally, to keep up with people in school was the biggest challenge,” Katrina said.
Cerebral palsy did not keep her off the slopes, however.
“At first I really hated the sport,” admitted Katrina. “It wasn’t until I was around 11 years old when I joined the adaptive sports program that I began to fall in love with it.”
The adaptive sports program Katrina participated in was Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra at Mammoth Mountain, where adaptive equipment and techniques are tailored to each student’s individual abilities, getting them skiing and snowboarding. The program helped make the sport easier for Katrina and as she got better she decided to start competing, mainly in Copper Mountain in Colorado. She has traveled to race in Utah and New Hampshire, but her favorite place to ski is Copper Mountain.
“I’m on that mountain a lot so I feel like I have an advantage when I race there,” Katrina said.
Her competition career, which began in 2012, is short but decorated. In addition to her two junior national golds, she has won one gold, one silver and two bronze medals in the North America Paralympic Races. She also won bronze in an able body alpine ski race, competing against athletes without a disability.
“It’s been a busy two years,” Katrina said.
This weekend, Katrina will compete in the IPC Alpine Skiing World Cup and has her sights set on bringing home more hardware.