Things Are Looking Down For This Paralyzed Olympian. But She’s Got A Good Reason To Be Happy About That.

“This to me is freedom.”

Former Olympic swimmer Amy Van Dyken-Rouen was paralyzed from the waist down after a terrible ATV accident severed her spine in 2014, but the ace athlete has already managed to find a new sport of choice to excel at: downhill skiing.

With the help of an adaptive ski, the 44-year-old can fly downhill at a breakneck pace that rivals the waves she once made in the pool. Though doctors warned Van Dyken-Rouen her mobility would be seriously impacted following her accident, she cites her fierce Olympic spirit as the reason for her quick — albeit hard-earned — athletic comeback.


In an interesting twist, Van Dyken-Rouen, who earned four gold medals at the 1996 Olympic Games and another two in the 2000 Olympic Games for various swimming races and relays, tells she actually feels restricted in the water. "A lot of people who are injured say that getting in the swimming pool is liberating and free for them. For me, that's where I feel the most paralyzed," she explains.

Not so with downhill skiing. "This to me is freedom," she adds.

At least one person in Van Dyken-Rouen's life is grateful she's found a new athletic outlet. According to her husband, Tom Rouen, skiing allows the decorated olympian to feed the competitive spirit that still burns inside her.

When she's not speeding down the slopes, Van Dyken-Rouen motivates others through Amy's Army, a foundation that aids and encourages others with spinal cord injuries that she founded with Tom.

Drawing on her own personal experience she says, "For people who are wondering if they can, stop wondering and get out there and do it. The scariest part is getting in here and going on that first lift. And after that, it's so much fun."

Watch more on Amy Van Dyken-Rouen’s skiing adventure below:



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