VAIL — Local resident and Paralympian Ralph Green has been on quite a ride.
On March 13 and 15, Green was the top finishing American at the Paralympics in Sochi, Russia, in the standing slalom and giant slalom disciplines. He came home to win national titles at the giant slalom and slalom national championships in Park City, Utah, going undefeated in the standing class in all four races held there March 25-28.
Then it was off to Washington, D.C., where Green participated in the Best of U.S. awards and toured the White House April 2-3, meeting President Barack Obama and the first lady.
From Washington Green headed back to his home in Vail, getting in at 4:30 a.m. on Friday. A day later he participated in Adaptive Spirit’s 19th annual event, the biggest fundraiser of the year for alpine Paralympians. On his team was DIRECTV’s vice president of affiliate relations Steve Raymond and Joe Rooney, senior vice president of branding, advertising and social media at Cox Communications.
“I was really satisfied with my season this year,” Green said Saturday from Vail’s Golden Peak race course, where the Adaptive Spirit race took place. “And now, we’re just here to have a good time, racing with the guys who run TV, who run telecommunications companies across the U.S. It’s a special event for us at the end of the season.”
While Green said the event was more about fun than competition, he did say he had a home-field advantage with it being held on his home course at Golden Peak.
“The support I’ve received from Ski Club Vail, letting me train here, train with this crew, it’s priceless,” he said.
WHITE HOUSE REGULAR
A three-time Paralympian, Green’s meeting with Obama last week was not his first.
When he was 16, Green lost his leg following a random street shooting in his native Brooklyn, N.Y.
“A year later, Green was introduced to skiing in the Poconos, and it didn’t do much for him,” his Team USA biography reads. “In 2000, though, Green found himself back on the slopes with a program in Winter Park, Colo., and as he says, ‘That’s when it stuck...‘I’m skiing until I’m the best.’”
Green went on to become the first African-American man to make the U.S. Disabled Alpine Team and participated in both the 2006 and 2010 Paralympics.
“I was fortunate enough to meet President Bush after the 2006 Games, he was such an awesome guy, and I met President Obama after the 2010 Games and then met him again this year,” Green said. “President Obama actually remembered me because I gave him a custom-made ski jacket last time. Mrs. Obama skis, so I told her next time you go skiing, come to Vail and look me up, and I’ll take you out and ski with you.”
Now finally able to relax with a hectic month behind him, Green says the action won’t stop. He’ll be visiting Jamaica in the coming weeks and has big plans after that.
“My motorcycle’s in New York now. I’m going to take a couple of weeks and ride it back to Colorado,” he said.
Keep tabs on Green’s adventures by following him on Twitter @bkskiman.