Coach Mike Brown shakes his head, smiling devilishly as he thinks about do-it-all champion Sarah Billmeier. One change at the Ski Team's summer camp on Mt. Hood could mean more devastation for disabled foreign skiers at the '98 Paralympics.
Billmeier, who exploded on the international scene with three gold medals as a 14-year-old at the 1992 Paralympics, added three more golds and a silver from the 1996 World Championships. Billmeier, who lost her left leg above the knee to cancer in 1982, led a euphoric 1-2-3 USA sweep in downhill (with Maggie Behle taking silver and Karen Gardner bronze).
At Mt. Hood, Brown had three-trackers lengthen their outriggers, which translated to less bending and more aggressiveness in turns. "Sarah's always had power and she's used it to keep her in it; now, though," the coach said, "she's developed finesse to enhance her power. Look out, Europe!"
COMMENT: "I'd thought about longer outriggers -- I'm five or six inches taller than Maggie [Behle] and we had the same size outriggers, so I was always bending way over -- but it was just one of those things we hadn't done. As soon as Brownie did it, though, wow! I could feel the benefit right away. This will be a good season getting used to it."
Start-up: She was skiing three years after losing her leg and created a sensation in '92, leaving Tignes with three gold medals and the title "Princess of the Paralympics."
Drei gold: Worlds provided a forum to use German learned in an accelerated language class at Dartmouth. "Sehr gut," she said, noting when a classmate returned from seven months in Germany, she was able to follow him when he "sprechened" Deutsch.
Water world: She played soccer and lacrosse at GMVS but learned how to kayak when she entered Dartmouth. She river-kayaked in New England and Ottawa this past summer and helped lead a water-oriented freshman trip into northern New Hampshire in August.
Water world II: She started learning how to flyfish at Mt. Hood. "I didn't catch anything but it was a lot of fun."
Classes: Class of '99, she plans to major in biology. Summer classes: environmental studies, drawing, and a 10-week course probing nine Shakespeare plays. "He's amazing, really blows my mind. The average person has a vocabulary of about a thousand words and Shakespeare's was 21,000! Incredible."
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