Alpine skier Mollie Jepsen, who captured gold for Canada’s first medal of the Beijing Paralympics, will close the Games in spectacular fashion.
The 22-year-old from West Vancouver, B.C., has been named Canada’s flag-bearer for Sunday’s closing ceremony.
Jepsen, who won gold and silver in Beijing despite racing on an ACL injury that requires surgery when she returns home, called it “an honour of a lifetime.”
“Over the last four years things have been really challenging and coming into these Games, I was unsure of where I would stand and how it would go,” she said. “I was able to stand on the podium just like in 2018 but to be able to represent all of the athletes who have done so amazing here and competed their hearts out at the Games feels amazing, and it’s an honour I will cherish for the rest of my life.”
Jepsen, who was born missing fingers on her left hand and skis with one pole, opened the Games with gold in the downhill, then added silver in the giant slalom Friday, for six career Paralympic medals — two of each colour.
After the Pyeongchang Games four years ago, she was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and it cost her the entire 2018-19 season. The COVID-19 pandemic then grounded the Canadian ski team, but she was able to return to the slopes this season, climbing the podium in all nine of her international races before the Games.
“I’m just really happy to be back at the Games and performing the way I was hoping I would perform,” she said.
Canada’s chef de mission, Josh Dueck, said Jepsen is a “fantastic example of perseverance, resiliency, and the power of the human spirit.
“She has overcome so many challenges over the past four years and to be here in Beijing, racing so well and laying it down for two medals is an amazing accomplishment,” Dueck said. “She is an incredible and passionate leader who loves her sport so much.”
The Canadian team will finish with a guaranteed 24 medals, perhaps one more, the second-highest in team history after the 28 won in Pyeongchang. Canada stands third overall behind China and Ukraine.
Curler Ina Forrest and hockey player Greg Westlake carried Canada’s flag into the opening ceremony last week at Bird’s Nest stadium.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 12, 2022.