Lexie Jordan, 12, of North Salem, NY, is no stranger to being competitive on an icy, ski slope. After learning to ski with STRIDE she is now a skier for Thunder Ridge club team. She is always the first racer down the course each day. This is one of the few compromises the racing tour makes because Lexie is legally blind, born with albinism, a genetic anomaly that affects about 1 in 20,000 newborns.
Most competitive skiers are taught to look about four to five gates ahead during a race. Due to her vision, Lexie manages to make out one or two. Blind or visually-impaired skiers are allowed to use a guide skier as they go down the snowy mountains. “I’m thinking about having my younger brother, Liam, help be my guide,” Lexie said. “We’re both very competitive and would have fun together.”
When she started skiing competitively last year in her first season with Thunder Ridge, Lexie’s goal was to not finish last. That led to how much faster she could ski each time. Through training, she’s excelled into becoming a young and talented skier- and possibly a Paralympic hopeful.
Lexie is a member of the United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) a community based program of the United States Olympic Committee whose mission is to enhance the lives of blind and visually impaired people by providing the opportunity for participation in sports and physical activity. “USABA helped get me involved with learning to ski successfully with a guide,” Lexie said. “I attended ski camp in Breckenridge, CO where I learned a lot about competitive skiing and I was also inspired by former Paralympic athlete, Carrie Willoughby.”
Lexie says there are benefits for being visual impaired. Because her sight is limited, it helps enhance other senses. Her memory is nearly photographic which she uses as a strength while skiing. “Relying on memory for racing is essential for skiing,” said Lexie. “I remember where everything is on the slope and where the gates are located. Because she does not let her visual impairment limit her boundaries to compete athletically, Lexie is a young and inspirational role model to people of all ages. Her goal is to become a Paralympic skier in her later years. “It takes a lot of hard work to be competitive in alpine skiing but I plan to keep learning how to race and become the best,” said Lexie.
The Jordon’s went to the Hartford Ski Spectacular in Breckenridge CO this December, where Lexie took race clinics.