Rise Up: Angeli Vanlaanen


[Editor's note: Writer and skier Sally Francklyn suffered a traumatic brain injury in March 2012. In this series, called Rise Up, Sally is interviewing other people in the freeskiing community who have also been dealt unimaginable hardships and managed to come out on top. Next Monday, the series will conclude with an interview with a sitskier who pushed his way across the southern pole.]

In August, Angeli Vanlaanen stood on the podium, a silver medal around her neck, at the first FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup halfpipe competition of the 2013-'14 season, held in New Zealand. It was a proud moment for Vanlaanen, who, after the 2009 X Games in Aspen, took three years away from competition due to an ongoing battle with Lyme disease. Last season, she returned to halfpipe competition for the first time since 2009, ending up 9th place overall on the Association of Freeskiing Professionals' ranking for women's halfpipe. I talked to Vanlaanen about competing with illness and how she's hoping to qualify for the 2014 Olympics.

Erik Seo

Angeli Vanlaanen hopes to return to compete in the Sochi Olympics in February.

I will be competing in five events as Olympic qualifiers, and how I do in these events will determine if I make the U.S. Olympic Halfpipe Team in Sochi.

This summer, I went to Mt. Bachelor for a week of pipe training. From there, I went to Whistler for two weeks and Mt. Hood for a week. In August, I went to New Zealand for a month.

I am currently in remission from Lyme disease, which means I am symptom free. With no way to test if the bacteria is completely gone, remission is the best-case scenario for someone with late-stage Lyme disease like myself.

I continue to sustain an extremely healthy lifestyle and strict anti-inflammatory diet to support my immune system and overall health.

I was diagnosed in November 2009, after 14 years of misdiagnosis. I took three years off from halfpipe competition for Lyme treatment.

How we treat our body is very important and directly affects what we are able to do physically. I do not take it for granted. I am very grateful to have a healthy body again.

I learned to trust my instincts about what's best for my body. Nobody can know your body better than you do, so it's important to be proactive and aware of what you need.

It's not the hand we are dealt in life, it's how we play the cards.

My favorite quote by the Beatles says, 'Take a sad song and make it better.'

Related Content