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Diana Golden Biography

Sense Of Humor, Golden's Legacy, Chronology, Awards And Accomplishments, Further Information


American skier

Diana Golden lost her right leg to cancer at age 12 and then went on to become a world champion disabled skier. During her career, she won ten world champion titles and 19 national titles. She also won the gold medal for disabled skiing at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta. More than any other disabled athlete, she helped to popularize disabled sporting events. She retired from competitive skiing in 1990, becoming a motivational speaker and a spokeswoman for the right of disabled athletes to be recognized as athletes first. She died of cancer in 2001 at age 38.

Golden grew up in Lincoln, Massachusetts. She began skiing at age five, and the sport quickly became her passion. However, when she was 12, bone cancer in her right leg forced the amputation of the leg above the knee. She asked immediately after the surgery: "Will I still be able to ski?" Golden discovered that she could still ski, and only six months after the operation that saved her life but took her leg, she was back on the slopes.

She retrained at a school run by the New England Handicapped Sports Association for disabled skiers in Mount Sunapee, New Hampshire, where her instructors and fellow students were Vietnam veterans who had lost limbs, blind people, and paraplegics. One of her instructors later remembered Golden as "the most precocious kid I'd ever met," Scott S. Greenberger wrote in the Boston Globe.

A keen sense of humor carried Golden through the challenges of relearning to ski. Once, while practicing, a group of boys cut her off on the slope, causing her to lose her balance and tumble down the hill. She pulled off her artificial leg and threw it at the boys, according to Michael O'Connor of the Boston Herald, saying: "Look what you guys did! You knocked my leg off!"

After graduating from Lincoln-Sudbury High School, she attended Dartmouth College, continuing her training with the school's ski team. She graduated from Dartmouth in 1984. She then went on to international competition, earning gold medals at the World Disabled Ski Championships; she won ten gold medals lifetime at this event. In addition, she won 19 gold medals at the U.S. Disabled Alpine Championships, in the giant slalom, the slalom, the downhill, and the combined events.

Sketch by Michael Belfiore

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsSkiing