Five Paralympic superstars have been named finalists for the Best Female Athlete Category for the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) 2011 Paralympic Sport Awards, proudly partnered by the IPC’s International Partner, Allianz.
The award will be presented by the IPC to the top female athlete for her accomplishments at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Games.
Finalists for the award include: German biathlete and cross-country skier Verena Bentele; Canadian alpine skier Lauren Woolstencroft; Russian biathlete and cross-country skier Vasilyeva Liubov; Slovakian alpine skier Henrieta Farkasova; and American alpine skier Alana Nichols.
• Verena Bentele: After a sport-related accident at the 2009 German Championships, where she seriously injured her knee, fingers, liver and kidney, Bentele came back to win five golds in Vancouver. The visually impaired 29-year-old, who had previously won 11 Winter Games medals, stood atop the podium in Biathlon (3km Pursuit, 12.5km Pursuit) and Cross-Country Skiing (15km Freestyle, 5km Classic Style, Sprint Classic Style). Her achievements led to her winning the Laureus World Sportsperson of the year with a Disability Award in 2011.
• Lauren Woolstencroft: The 29-year-old, who has been skiing since age four and who was born without legs below the knee and her left arm below the elbow, won all five events she entered in Vancouver. She struck gold in the Alpine Skiing standing events for Super G, Super Combined, Slalom, Giant Slalom and Downhill. Woolstencroft has now won more than 50 medals in various levels of competition since she began skiing competitively at 14, and was named the IPC’s Best Female Athlete in its 2007 Paralympic Sports Awards. The Canadian completed a degree in electrical engineering and now works as an engineer and volunteers with the War Amps of Canada.
• Vasilyeva Liubov: The visually impaired Russian, who began skiing in 2003, claimed gold in the 3x2.5km Cross-Country Skiing Relay in Vancouver and silvers in the Biathlon 3km pursuit and 12.5km pursuit. She also won bronze in the Cross-Country Sprint Classic Style. A Paralympic veteran at 44, Liubov also competed in Wheelchair Fencing at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games.
• Henrieta Farkasova: Just 24 years old at the time of the Vancouver Games, Farkasova turned some heads by winning four medals in Alpine Skiing, including three golds. She won gold in the Super G, Giant Slalom and Super Combined events and a silver in the Downhill.
• Alana Nichols: After winning Wheelchair Basketball gold at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games, Nichols became the first female athlete from the USA to win gold at both the Summer and Winter Games when she struck gold twice in Vancouver. Nichols won both the Downhill and Giant Slalom Alpine Skiing events, in addition to picking up silver in the Super G and bronze in the Super Combined. The 28-year-old has been mono-skiing since 2002, just two years after she broke her back in a snowboarding accident.
The award winner will be announced during a special ceremony held in conjunction with the 2011 IPC General Assembly in Beijing, China, in December.