Paralympic medalist Stephani Victor, the official spokesperson for the Chaffin Luhana Foundation, recently announced that she qualified for the Swiss Paralympic Team and will be competing in Pyeongchang, South Korea for the Paralympic Games that open on March 9.
“We did it!” she said. “Thanks to Marcel [my husband and coach], I have qualified and will be racing for Switzerland.” Marcel will be attending with an athlete he is coaching from Mexico, Arly Velasquez. “We are demonstrating through sport how friendship supersedes borders,” Stephani added.
Inspirational Athlete Turns Tragedy Into Achievement
When Stephani was only 26 years old, she was crushed between two vehicles and dragged 15 feet in a horrible freak accident. Her doctors had to amputate both legs above her knees to save her life.
“It wasn’t my plan to become a professional athlete,” she says. “It became my destiny.” While recovering in the hospital, she realized she was going to have to fight to keep her independence. “That fight began with a single pull-up in my hospital bed and evolved into a relentless search for the sport I could dedicate myself to.”
She credits Marcel Kuonen, former Swiss Ski Team racer and coach, for seeing her potential as a paralympic skier. “He sparked the vision for me to recreate myself,” she says, “with no legs as the best alpine ski racer in the world.”
With Marcel by her side, Stephani started a new journey toward the Paralympics. She would go on to win gold in the Slalom at the 2006 Paralympics, the Overall World Cup title in 2007, three World Champion Gold Medals and one Silver Medal in Korea in 2009, and two silver medals in Giant Slalom and Slalom, as well as the gold in the Super Combined, in 2010 in Vancouver. In 2013 she won several more World Cup Victories, and was named the U.S. National Champion in Slalom in Park City, Utah.
Now, Stephani has set her sights on the Paralympics one more time.
Meeting Life’s Challenges with Dignity and Courage
Stephani has participated in four previous Paralympic games on Team USA, and expressed her gratitude for all her supporters and sponsors. This year, she will participate as part of the Swiss team, “as a tribute to my loving and dedicated Swiss husband/coach,” Marcel.
She arrived in Pyeongchang the first weekend in March, but unfortunately, her skis didn’t arrive with her. “Delta happened to choose our bags to remove from the plane to reduce their overweight and oversold dilemma,” she said on Facebook. “Ah, LIFE! So consistently surprising and always providing the opportunity to choose—to see the blessings or to fold under the challenges. For those of you facing challenges, let’s choose, in this moment, higher. For I feel the blessings in the calm before the storm.”
Stephani’s enduring spirit is what has made her not only an award-winning athlete, but an inspiring motivational speaker and spokesperson for the Chaffin Luhana Foundation.
“Stephani never slows down,” says founding partner Eric Chaffin. “She sets a stellar example of how we should all conduct and handle ourselves under difficult circumstances and in everyday life.”
Through her work with the Foundation, Stephani seeks to give back to the community in which she grew up. “There’s a lot of good to be done,” she says, “and I’m excited to be working with the Chaffin Luhana Foundation to make it happen.”
The opening ceremonies for the 2018 Paralympics will begin on March 9th, with skiing events occurring almost every day after that through March 18. Stephanie’s race schedule is as follows. Fans can watch her on the Paralympic Sport TV channel on YouTube.
- March 9th: Opening Ceremonies
- March 10th: Men’s and Women’s Downhill, 9:30am-12:30 (women first)
- March 11th: Men’s and Women’s Super G, 9:30am-12:30 (women first)
- March 13th: Men’s and Women’s Super Combined, 9:30am-1pm SG (women first), second run SL 3-5pm
- March 15th: Women’s Slalom, 9:30-11 first run, from 12:30-1:30 second run
- March 18th: Women’s Giant Slalom, 9:30-11 first run, from 12:30-1:30 second run
- March 18th: Closing Ceremonies
For more details on the schedule and the results, please see the Paralympic website. NBC is also covering the 2018 Paralympics so check your local listings.