An Athlete with Insight

I’m Danelle Umstead, Paralympian ski racing champion and motivational speaker.

At thirteen, I was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic eye condition that results in total blindness.

At twenty-nine, nearly blind, my father offered to take me skiing for the first time. I stood atop a mountain in Northern New Mexico my father a silouette in front of me wearing a bright orange ski bib. I took a deep breath.

And off we went down the slope.

In the 3 minutes it took to ski down that mountain, I found my passion.

A few years later I met my husband, Rob Umstead, and with him as my guide we became the Paralympic ski racing Team Vision4Gold.

Rob and I won two bronze medals at the 2010 Vancouver Paralympic Winter Games. By year-end, I was awarded the 2010 Athlete of the Year by the National Sports Center for the Disabled.

I was on top of the world.

Then I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a nerve disease that paralyzed half my body. I first had to relearn how to walk, and then how to ski again. In spite of this, Rob and I continued competing in Alpine Skiing World Cup races …and winning!

In 2011, I was named Adaptive Athlete of the Year by the United States Ski and Snowboard Association.

In 2014 we earned a spot in the Sochi Winter Paralympic Games where we earned a bronze medal.

Rob and I took the bronze again in the 2017 World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Tarvisio, Italy, in the Super-G and with a 4th place finish in downhill.

The Team


Breed: Human
DOB: 3-10-1970
Birthplace: Massachusetts
Parents: Lynne & David
Puppy Raisers: Lynne & David Umstead
School: University of Massachusetts
Year Graduated: 1992
Favorite Food: Beef, Fondue, Chocolate


Breed: Yellow Labrador Retriever
DOB: 2-25-2012
Birthplace: San Rafael, CA
Parents: Labrador Retrievers – Salina & Simon
Puppy Raisers: Darter Family & Smith Family
School: Guide Dogs For The Blind
Year Graduated: 2013