Last weekend, three sport elite American athlete Alana Nichols became the first mono-skier to conquer Silverton Mountain. The mountain is considered by many skiers to have some of the most difficult terrain in the country to ski. It is open only to advance and expert skiers, and is the only ski resort in the lower 48 that offers a heli-lift to the top of certain peaks.
Of her achievement, Nichols told The Durango Herald, “I feel at home every time I come back here. The San Juan Mountains have been a blessing for me through and through. […] I learned how to snowboard at Purgatory and then broke my back and re-learned how to sit-ski at Purgatory. This area of the country has taken parts of me and given them back. […] All-in-all, I’m incredibly blessed by those mountains, and feel even more connected to them now that I’ve skied Silverton. […] The stoke was high in town for me. Everyone who saw me in the parking lot, lift line, on the shuttle bus, they were all giving high-fives and telling me how great it was to see me out. […] I felt really special.”
Nichols is the first American woman to have won gold medals at the Summer and Winter Paralympics, with her medals coming in para-alpine skiing and wheelchair basketball. Having mastered these sports and officially retired from elite para-alpine skiing, she has changed her focus and is currently attempting to qualify for the 2016 Summer Paralympics in para-canoe.