Growing up in Vermont, Sarah Will was a natural on the slopes. She had a season pass at age 4 and five years later became a member of the Pico Mountain Ski Team in central Vermont. She would go on to compete on the nationally-ranked ski team at Green Mountain College.
After college, Will’s love of skiing took her to Colorado. But in 1988, a skiing accident left her paralyzed from the waist down.
During her recovery, however, Will read Bold Tracks: Skiing for the Disabled by Hal O’Leary. Within a year, she was back on the slopes – and going plenty fast.
At the Albertville 1992 Paralympic Winter Games, Will won gold medals in the downhill and super-G. Two years later, at the Lillehammer 1994 Paralympic Winter Games, Will won three gold medals, adding a gold in the slalom as well. At the Nagano 1998 Paralympic Games, Will won gold in the giant slalom, slalom and super-G and took silver in the downhill.
As wonderful as those accomplishments were, Will topped them all at the Salt Lake City 2002 Paralympic Winter Games. Before a home crowd, Will swept gold in the four races: downhill, giant slalom, slalom and super-G.
With 12 gold medals and one silver, Will is one of the most decorated athletes in U.S. ski team history.
“It’s not a disability, it’s an ability,” Will said. “You can go out and do anything you want to do, but you have to be the one that makes that decision. You can learn a lot from other people, but you just have to go out there and do it yourself.
“Use the resources that are available to you. Utilize your physical strength and mental will power to conquer your limitations. Never under estimate what your mind and body can do.”