Sheina Vaspi shines, but does not compromise, at the Paralympic Games
“I said, ‘Yes, I want it,'” Vaspi said in English.
She swooped down the slopes like a Vermont native ski bird, showing enough promise to convince Erez Foundation volunteers like Pezaro to invest in her potential. They loved that Vaspi wanted to be on the mountain no matter how miserable the conditions were – and they noticed something else.
“She wasn’t afraid of speed at all,” said Pezaro, who helped Vaspi ski. “We thought she had potential. And Sheina was kind of lost in her Israeli life. I knew from my experience as an athlete that it could be so meaningful to step into a program that will require discipline in doing what you love.
Vaspi traveled to the slopes of Europe when Mount Hermon was bare, then spent a month in Banff, Canada for high-level training. But a broken bone in her amputated leg interrupted that trip, and she returned to Israel, still hoping to return to Banff after her recovery. It was only two years into her skiing career, but the pandemic hit and Canada was no longer an option.
So instead, Vaspi went to the National Sports Center for the Disabled in Winter Park, Colorado to train with Scott Olson. She started racing, and she did surprisingly well for someone of her limited experience, while observing the rules of her faith, including wearing her skirt. She even started a new trend in Winter Park.
The Chilean paraski team was also training at Winter Park, and one of the Chilean coach’s daughters loved Vaspi’s skirt. One day, the young girl wore one on the slopes and presented Vaspi with a drawing she had done of herself, with Vaspi’s fiery red hair flowing behind her as she raced down the mountain in a skirt.