Snowriding: Paralyzed woman flying high at Paralympics

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By The Staff

FARMINGTON (AP) — Sports enthusiast Alana Nichols was a senior at Farmington High School in 2000 when she broke her back in a snowboarding accident and lost the use of her legs.

"I didn't think I'd be able to ski anymore," Nichols said.

Ten years later, Nichols skis competitively around the world and is ranked the fastest female adaptive skier in the country by the International Paralympics Committee. She came home from the 2010 IPC Alpine Skiing World Cup in Sestriere, Italy, with five medals. Two of them were gold. The victory is the latest stop on a long, hard road for the natural athlete, who will compete in the 2010 Winter Paralympics in Vancouver, Canada, later this month.

Nichols always prioritized athletics, even before her accident. Before she was hurt, she played on the varsity softball team that won state that year, said Nichols' grandmother, Joan Vilven.

She intended to make softball her career. Because she had well-developed upper body strength before her accident, Nichols had less of a physical barrier to cross to start competing again. However, there was an emotional component she had to conquer first.

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