By Troy Hawks
You would think that having a below-the-knee leg amputation at the age of six months would tend to slow you down. But Jamie Stanton, who was born with a growth deficiency of the fibula (fibular hemimelia) never let it interrupt his love of sports, particularly ski racing.
You can learn a lot about someone through social media. When I caught up with Stanton this summer, I visited his Twitter account where he had Retweeted this note from Joel Osteen, a popular televangelist:
You were never created to live an average, get-by life. You have royalty in your blood. Winning is in your DNA.
Those words are easy to assimilate no matter what your religious or spiritual leanings. After chatting with Stanton, it was pretty clear that he has a natural drive and ambition to succeed no matter what the task. Fortunately for the U.S. Paralympics Alpine Skiing National Team, his immediate task has been to win ski races.
Stantons coaches call him a breakout star. He began the 2012/13 season on the development squad, but won two gold medals at the 2013 Huntsman Cup held at Park City. It was his first appearance in an international competition.From there, Stantons momentum continued with three world cup podiums in Australia and New Zealand before returning to Copper in December to claim gold at the IPC NorAm Cup. He was the top ranked mens standing skier in the U. S. going into the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games where he took sixth in the Super G, 13th in the Super Combined, and 22nd in slalom.While he trains at the National Sports Center for the Disabled (NSCD) at Winter Park, Stanton grew up in Michigan. He was skiing Boyne Highlands when he was three. Ultimately his older sister, who was already ski racing, influenced him to give it a try.
I saw how much she loved it, and I wasnt sure at first if I would like it as much, but I absolutely loved it right away, I credit her for getting me started, he says.
The word disabled doesnt really apply to Stanton. He has played able-bodied sports for most of his life including basketball, hockey, and tennis. He was the captain of the golf team in his junior and senior year.
Ive always had confidence in myself, that I was a good athlete, he says. I never felt slow, or shot down, I just knew eventually all of my hard work was going to pay off.
He went on to win back-to-back titles in Michigan Adaptive Sports State Championships, and news of his accomplishments reached Colorado. Stanton got a call from Erik Petersen of the NSCD.
There were a lot of emotions, I was excited that my skiing had gotten noticed, Stanton says.
Peterson told him that if he was serious about ski racing, he needed to move to Colorado. Petersen brought Stanton to his first race camp in Breckenridge, Colorado.Stanton is majoring in finance at University of Denver (DU) thanks in part to the Willy Schaeffler Scholarship Fund that benefits disabled scholar-athletes. The program began in 1989 to honor the late Willy Schaeffler, a DU alum and Olympic and U.S. Ski Team coach.
So what advice does Stanton have for other athletic-minded kids facing similar circumstances?
The biggest thing is that no matter what life throws at you, never give up, take the negative and turn it into a positive and live life to the fullest, Stanton says.
Those are words that even Joel Osteen would find worthy of a Retweet.