Meet DANELLE

Danell Umstead - Paralympic Alpine Skier and gold medalist.

An Athlete With Insight

I’m Danelle Umstead, Paralympian ski racing champion and motivational speaker.

At thirteen, I was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic eye condition that results in total blindness.


At twenty-nine, nearly blind, my father offered to take me skiing for the first time. I stood atop a mountain in Northern New Mexico my father a silouette in front of me wearing a bright orange ski bib. I took a deep breath.

And off we went down the slope.

In the 3 minutes it tookl to ski down that mountain, I found my passion.

A few years later I met my husband, Rob Umstead, and with him as my guide we became the Paralympic ski racing Team Vision4Gold.

Rob and I won two bronze medals at the 2010 Vancouver Paralympic Winter Games. By year-end, I was awarded the 2010 Athlete of the Year by the National Sports Center for the Disabled.

I was on top of the world.

Then I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a nerve disease that paralyzed half my body. I first had to relearn how to walk, and then how to ski again. In spite of this, Rob and I continued competing in Alpine Skiing World Cup races ...and winning!

In 2011, I was named Adaptive Athlete of the Year by the United States Ski and Snowboard Association.

In 2014 we earned a spot in the Sochi Winter Paralympic Games where we earned a bronze medal.

Rob and I took the bronze again in the 2017 World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Tarvisio, Italy, in the Super-G and with a 4th place finish in downhill.

Our sights are now set on representing the USA at the 2018 Winter Paralympic Games in Pyeonchang, South Korea.