First Posted: 9/6/2013
Stephanie Jallen grabbed a gold medal in World Cup skiing competition at Thredbo Village, Australia. She now has three medals with one event to go.
After a rough start, Jallen failed to score a point in New Zealand, but bounced back by grabbing a silver medal in giant slalom for her first World Cup points of the season. On Day 2, she scored a bronze medal in slalom.
Jallen is a 17-year old student from Wyoming Area and is working towards being picked for the Paralympic games in Sochi, Russia.
Jallen was born with CHILDS Syndrome, which left her entire left side underdeveloped and caused the amputation of her left leg when she was an infant.
But she never let that get her down.
“The cards you’re dealt with are the cards you have,” Jallen said with a shrug to Times Leader sports columnist Paul Sokolowsky in 2012. “Why not have fun with it? Why not fold it into paper airplanes?”
More from the column Sokolowsky wrote about her:
Because of her success on the ski slopes, Jallen has become a hot ticket on the motivational-speaking circuit.
Five years ago, she was invited by then state Rep. Raphael Musto to share her inspiring story in front of the Pennsylvania Senate,
She doesn’t remember much of what she said that day, but she vividly recalls the impression she made.
“They were crying,” Jallen said of the room full of senators. “That was the only time I saw that many men in tears. Right now, if I were told, ‘Go speak in the Senate,’ I’d be absolutely terrified. But I was 11 years old.”
Yet, she was old enough at the time to know her potential was practically limitless.
From the age of 7, when Jallen first attempted to ski, she set her goal of making the Paralympics.
“Skiing gives me a reason and a purpose to stay in shape,” said the daughter of Deb and Mike Jallen. “Having the disability that I have puts me in a situation where it is critical to stay in shape, so I can do simple things like walking and carrying things easily.”
As fluid as she makes her life appear, there have been difficult times.
“When she was younger, she knew she was different,” Deb Jallen said. “She had her friends. (But) she didn’t fit in when it came to going to the mall and going to the movies.”
It got Stephanie pretty down one day, her mom said.
“That was the only time I ever sensed her feeling as though she didn’t fit in,” Deb Jallen said. “She understood why. She never complained about it. She knew her place in life at a very young age.”
That place, it turns out, is at the top of the mountain.
Jallen had two great days of racing at the U.S. Nationals at Winter Park, Colorado last January. Then 16-years old, she had a break-through event in the Super G with two Silver Medals while grabbing two Gold Medals, one in the Giant Slalom and one in Slalom.