Basketball, ski racing, sprint kayaking, surfing—Alana Nichols’ athletic career has brought her to the highest levels of a wide range of sports. Still, she tells us on this week’s show, as a Paralympian she often struggled to get the same care for her injuries as her able-bodied peers.

But fight she did, and her advocacy has carried over into her newer roles as president of the Women’s Sports Foundation and mother of baby Gunnar, who turns one year old in July (and whose dad is previous guest Roy Tuscany). For Alana, it all began when she came to terms with reality and set small goals. Eventually, they took her farther than she would have imagined, within sports and beyond them.

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In this episode, we discuss:

  • How injuries are viewed in Paralympic sports and the added obstacles adaptive athletes face (5:42)
  • How that connects to a bigger movement for access and equality (9:03)
  • The way her initial spinal cord injury influenced the way she coped with subsequent injuries (10:15)
  • How sports helped her through the process of adjusting to disability (13:38)
  • Becoming a new mom, and how that required her to readjust to her identity all over again (16:26)
  • Her last major injury, which led to her retirement from ski racing (19:18)
  • Vicarious trauma and how that factored into her life and decision to retire (28:47)
  • How lessons learned from injuries are helping her navigate the pandemic
  • Her work with the Women’s Sports Foundation, and the way it’s transformed her even as she’s aiming to transform the world (36:44)
  • The challenges women’s sports face in the wake of the pandemic and how they’re hoping to address them (42:15)

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