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Muffy Davis is a Paralympic skier who won three silver medals at the 2002 Paralympic Games in Salt Lake City. She also got three gold medals for hand-cycling at the 2012 London Games. Davis knew at a young age that she was meant to be a ski racer. “I told my mom when I was like seven years old that God had made me to be a ski racer,” she said. She had always been a hyper-competitive kid. “I like to push myself, ” she said. “I like to feel the wind in my hair, I like to run, I like to win.”
She grew up in Sun Valley, Idaho, where she was “childhood rivals” with Picabo Street. “That was awesome to have someone with the talent she had as my rival and challenger,” Davis said.
Davis set a goal at a young age to go to the Olympics. At 16, she was well on her way to that goal. She was on the U.S. Development Ski Team and had been invited to race with the U.S. Ski Team in Europe. But then she had a devastating downhill skiing accident. “I went off the course, hit a tree with my back, which resulted in my paralysis,” she said. Her father was the local radiologist and had to read her x-rays. “For me to come to an acceptance that I was going to probably be in a wheelchair most of my life, if not my whole life, took at least two years,” she said.
Davis channeled her competitive nature and energy into other goals: academics and community service. She graduated from Stanford University. At college, she had learned all about adaptive skiing and that she could have the chance to compete again.
Her parents supported her decision to get back into ski racing. “I think they knew my spirit and who my soul was,” she said. “Where I was truly me was when I was competing.”
Davis worked hard for a couple of years to learn how to ski with different equipment and get her skill level up.
Eventually she was named to the U.S. Disabled Ski Team, nine years after her accident. “What I learned is that I didn’t have to change who I was born to be, just because I had a disability,” Davis said. “I was still able to do what I was born to do.”
Davis has now been able to inspire others with her journey and attitude. She is one of the most sought after motivational speakers worldwide.
“I think that’s probably the best gift and blessing of being an athlete, an elite level athlete, is being able to motive and give back and inspire and hopefully challenge others,” she said.
Davis has also gotten into a new sport: hand-cycling. “I feel like I’m the athlete I was before I broke my back,” she said.
She got into hand-cycling to get back in shape after giving birth to her daughter, Elle. She signed up for the Salt Lake Marathon and ended up winning. Before she knew it, she was at an adaptive cycling camp at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. After a few competitions, she found herself at the 2012 London Games. She won three gold medals, finally achieving a dream she had since she was a little girl.
Davis’ motto for life is “those who say it cannot be done, shouldn’t interrupt the people doing it.”
KUTV News, Salt Lake City, UT, April 18, 2016