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To Russia with love

Feb13All eyes were on the world-class athletes in Sochi during the 2014 Winter Olympics, but the Colorado Mesa University community was paying special attention to two athletes in particular. CMU kinesiology student Lanny Barnes represented Team USA in the biathlon, which combines cross-country skiing and shooting. Her classmate, Heidi Jo Duce, will snowboard for the U.S. on March 14 in the Paralympic Games.

Barnes and her twin sister, Tracy, received a significant amount of media attention after Tracy gave up her spot on Team USA to enable Lanny, sick during the qualifying races, to travel to Sochi in her place. Both sisters competed in the 2006 Winter Olympics, and Lanny returned to compete in the 2010 games. At age 31, the 2014 games were likely her last chance for Olympic gold.

The twins’ story was soon picked up by the Today Show and several international newspapers, briefly featured in a Guinness ad and even mentioned on a segment of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. “It’s crazy to realize that just that private little moment between two twin sisters could end up becoming an international story and inspiring so many people,” Lanny told London’s Daily Telegraph.

Duce’s story is no less inspiring. Born without a fibula and most of the bones in her foot and ankle, the Ouray native underwent two amputations to remove her leg below the knee. The adversity she faced hasn’t stopped her from playing hard and working harder— an avid kayaker and a participant in CMU’s Outdoor Program, Duce has been snowboarding since she was 11.

Her dogged enthusiasm for the sport paid off. On May 1, 2013, she was named to the inaugural U.S. Paralympics Snowboarding National Team. She’ll race in the snowboard cross event in Sochi on March 14. Duce was also featured on the Today Show and appeared in an inflight ad for United Airlines. The 23-year-old does not have any corporate sponsors, though. “I ride for the community that supports me,” she told Ouray newspaper The Watch. “I’m not in it for the money. I’m in it to show the world what amputees can do. And I’m in it for the love of the sport.”

Read more about Barnes and Duce in the upcoming issue of The Maverick, released in early March. •

Media Contact

Dana Nunn, Director of Media Relations

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