Disabled Athlete From NJ Will Compete In Winter Games - KMSP-TV

Disabled Athlete From NJ Will Compete In Winter Games

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Imagine driving 55 miles per hour, blindfolded, with someone telling you when and where to turn. That is the routine for Paralympic Skier Staci Mannella, who's competing in Sochi this year.

FOX News Senior Correspondent Rick Leventhal has the incredible story.

We've seen some amazing performances from disabled athletes. Staci Manella is among the most impressive, rocketing down mountains at highway speed with only a hazy view of what's ahead.

Skiing downhill at speeds of up to 55 miles per hour is hard enough. Imagine doing it blind this is what it looks like through the eyes of 17-year-old, Staci Mannella.

"I have acromatopsia which is a genetic eye disease that leaves me really, extremely light sensitive. I have bad visual acuity and I'm partially color blind, says Manella.

Even though the New Jersey teenager can only see about three feet in front of her she's competing in the Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia with her guide, 56-year old Kim Seevers.

"Kim skis right in front of me with her neon green, she sticks out from everyone else... and trees and things that are potentially harmful," says Manella.

The two communicate over headsets. Kim tells Staci when to swish and when to brace for a bump.

"It's just like for you to put a blindfold on and take off in the car, having somebody tell you where to stop where to go. Just to trust that person implicitly to keep you safe from running into anything... that's the most important part of my job and also sometimes the scariest part of my job, "says Seevers.

Staci and Kim are competing in two events, The Slalom and Giant Slalom, starting next Friday. Staci says her goal is to be the number one.

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