Disabled skier wins three gold medals in Nordic championships | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Disabled skier wins three gold medals in Nordic championships

Chad Sellmer, Tribune staff writer

Provided to the TribuneWhen she's not winning gold medals, Candace Cable promotes girls' sports throughout the U.S.

Since an auto accident in the 1970s changed her life forever, Candace Cable has been traveling the world, winning Olympic gold medals, supporting girls’ sports and basically turning a negative into a serious positive.

While some people’s lives are ruined by a devastating spinal cord injury, Cable — a paraplegic who lives in Truckee — uses it to her advantage in every way possible. She just returned this week from the Seventh Nordic World Ski Championship for the Disabled in Baiersbronn, Germany, where she won three gold medals for cross country/women sitting.

“The crazy girl is out exercising right now,” said her father, Lewis Conners, a South Lake Tahoe roofer and possibly Cable’s biggest fan. “She never stops.”

Cable, now 48 years old, was injured in a car accident on Kingsbury Grade back in 1975 and spent two months in recovery at Barton Memorial Hospital before moving onto rehab in her native Los Angeles.

“It was one of those heavy turns up at Kingsbury they straightened out several years ago,” Conners said. “She started racing in 1979. She didn’t wait.”

Before her injury, Cable was known to frequent Heavenly Ski Resort, where she was just picking up the sport.

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“I was just learning how to ski when I broke my back,” Cable said. “I was wheelchair racing and stuff like that, and in 1989 I came up here to learn how to monoski. I raced on an Alpine team, and then switched to cross country skiing, which is more the aerobic activity I was used to.

“One of the things I really like about it is that being in a wheelchair you’re confined to concrete or asphalt, (but) Nordic gives me the opportunity to really explore the wilderness in the snow and snow is usually a big obstacle,” she said. “It is a great sport for people with mobility impairments to get out into the wilderness.”

In the summertime, Cable competes in marathons and has raced in six Boston marathons. Overall, she has won 58 marathons, nine Paralympic gold medals and numerous other medals and awards. She has competed in the Lillehammer, Nagano and Salt Lake City Paralympic Winter Games and many world championships. She has also been to Seoul, Los Angeles and Barcelona.

“She didn’t go to Australia because she went on a hand-cycle tour from Oregon all the way to New York with 75 other handicapped cyclists and some able-bodied (called Girls On the Move) and they promoted girls’ sports,” Conners said. “Instead of going down there to win some medals, she decided to do that.”

“We stopped in 1,500 communities along the way, doing outreach to girls and women on health and fitness, body issues and trying to inspire people to get out there, get active and have some fun,” said Cable, adding that her future goals include more outreach and developing teaching programs, as well as plenty more athletics.

“I’m completely committed to the U.S. Disabled Cross Country Ski Team through 2006,” she said. “My goal is to ski in Torino, Italy on the team and win some medals. I want to win the overall title in the World Cup. The last race is in Norway at the end of March.

“I’m trying to create a teaching program for sit-down skiing and cross country and I’m putting together a video that can go nationally and into Canada,” she added. “I hope to develop some type of teaching program for schools to teach kids about the disabled.”

Cable credits her incredible rise in disabled athletics to the support from family and friends during her difficult recovery period following her accident.

“I have a really supportive family. They’ve always been there for me,” she said. “When I was in Barton Memorial for two months, my dad quit the job he had and came to be with me. He’s lived in South Lake Tahoe ever since. I had incredible support from my family and friends, who were always telling me I can make it happen.”