'We are making the right decision': B.C. Paralympic champion on team's decision to stay home
VANCOUVER -- A Canadian Paralympic champion skier from Whistler stays home to train while other Para-Alpine teams continue to compete in Europe
Mollie Jepsen is a Canadian Para-Alpine Skier, who planned on competing this winter, but the team decided to stay back in Canada because of COVID-19 restrictions.
“I have a lot of faith in my team and I think we are making the right decision to focus on our training … I don’t think as athletes you never have enough prep time.” Jepsen told CTV News.
Twenty-one-year old Jepsen, who specializes in the speed events like downhill and Super G, was coming off a fantastic start to last season.
“My first race back was January 2020 and that was one of my highlights of my career. I won my first two Super G races on the World Cup circuit which was huge for me, I literally cried at the finish. That was a big thing for me," she said.
The Para-Alpine team is made up of men and women in three categories: visually impaired, standing and sitting. The athletes in standing and sitting events have a physical disability. Jepsen competes in standing.
“I was born a partial hand amputee on my left side, so I‘m missing a few fingers on the left side so it really doesn’t affect me in many ways in my life, but in ski racing it means I’m only skiing with one pole.” says Jepsen
Will Marshall, who has coached the Para-Alpine team since 2015, says the World Cup circuit in Europe can be hectic going from race to race, and with a pause on this season, it gives his athletes time to train and improve into next season.
“We reset, once things opened up we were able to be back here in Whistler training in the gym.” Marshall told CTV News
“We have a big group with a lot of different training ideas, a lot of different options and people with different goals.”
Jepsen has skied all of her life. She grew up in West Vancouver then moved to Whistler, where she competed against able-bodied skiers and got noticed one day on the hill.
“Someone sent a tweet out to the Para-Alpine team, 'Oh keep an eye out for this girl, she’s out here skiing with one pole and its pretty awesome,'” said Jepsen.
After recovering from numerous injuries, it was the 2018 Winter Paralympics in PyeongChang, Korea where Jepsen had her break through moment, bringing home four medals, including a gold in the alpine combined event.
“It’s unreal to represent Canada. I’m so proud to be able to do that," said Jepsen.
Shortly after the Games, she began having health issues that forced her off the slopes
“I ended up getting diagnosed with Crohn’s disease took the whole year off on injury status in order to get better get on top of my health and figure out what the heck was going on," said Jepsen.
She’s now healthy and ready for the next chapter of her career and focused on the 2022 Paralympic Games in Beijing.
“She’s always got a plan. She knows what she needs for herself to proceed, she’s always ready to go," said Marshall
Jepsen says Paralympic athletes are working hard to show off their sport to the world.
“The more that it can be showcased in the media and the more we are put on the same page and level as any Olympic athlete the more the movement is going to grow I think that is the biggest thing.”