our athletes

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Mark Urich // Ski Racer

Mark was born in the great state of Colorado on October 10, 1985. He was born with a birth defect known as Proximal Femoral Focal Deficiency, or PFFD, where his femur on the right side was deformed and the lower leg was also missing the fibula. This led to an amputation of his lower leg to better fit a prosthetic at the age of 2.

As Mark grew, so did his desire to compete in sports. His mother is and was hugely instrumental in Mark’s ability to be athletic, stating constantly that “You are only as disabled as you want to be…”

He started with Little League baseball, and then soon was participating in any sport he could, including football, basketball, hockey, cycling, rock-climbing…anything outdoors! He competed at the Varsity level in high school football, and then went on to row on the Varsity crew team at C.U. Boulder. Skiing, however, was left undiscovered until Mark was in his mid-twenties.

In 2010 at the age of 25, Mark met friend and teammate, Alana Nichols, who introduced him to the Paralympics and adaptive skiing. Mark put on his first ski at Winter Park in December of 2010. He picked it up quickly, and decided that he wanted to enter an upcoming race camp in Breckenridge. From that moment, he had found a new passion…going FAST! He started training full time with the NSCD, and 3 short months later with help of an awesome coaching staff, Mark competed and placed 9th in Downhill at the U.S. Nationals in Alyeska, Alaska.

With a rekindled desire to compete, Mark moved to Winter Park to train full-time. He was able to continue to progress and cut seconds off every race that he competed in. He had a lofty goal of competing in the 2014 Sochi games, but was just shy of qualifying, and although he was slightly disappointed, he was still excited to cheer on his teammates on T.V. from the restaurant he worked at in Denver.

However, in the summer after the Sochi games, Mark was unfortunately attacked by a group of gang members while bartending. He was struck from behind with a pool stick, fracturing the spinous process off of his T1 vertebrae. He was in a neck brace for about 2 months and was on weight and work restrictions after that. Shortly after returning to work, Mark learned that the group that had attacked him were searching for him and actually came back into the bar late one night in November. Feeling threatened in his hometown, Mark thought it best to move to Big Sky, Montana.

They say that everything happens for a reason, and Mark is now able to see the whole ordeal as a positive. He is recently turned vegan, is training everyday, and further developing his immense love for the outdoors. He is going to be training back in Winter Park, CO for the 2017/2018 season and is focusing on making the Paralympic Team.