This is the first installment of SKI’s profile series celebrating influential women in skiing. From trailblazers to educators to industry-leaders, the women profiled here have left an indelible mark on our sport.
For Sarah Will, the first season back on the slopes following her accident was a whirlwind. After years of ski racing and freeskiing, she was now a complete beginner. Strapped into a monoski and tethered to a helper, Will fell often and her frustration level was high. She wondered if she had made the right choice to ski again. The sport that had offered her so much independence while growing up became all about dependence.
Eventually, with the help of friends and family and sheer perseverance, Will learned how to master a monoski, and then set her mind on racing again.
Every winter weekend of Will’s childhood was spent crowding into the family car with her five siblings and driving from Valley Cottage, N.Y., to Pico Peak in Vermont. She was in the race program at Pico, but she blew off training any time there was powder so she could bomb down the runs with her brother Peter. “We valued adventure over training and had so much joy from what we got to do on the mountain,” she says.
After ski racing at Green Mountain College, Will drove west to Aspen, Colo. In 1988, three months after arriving in the Rockies, Will had a ski accident, which left her paralyzed from the waist down. She was 24 years old.