Thu Feb 20 2014 14:42:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
Alana Nichols, 30, Team USA Paralympic wheelchair basketball player and alpine skier from Farmington, N.M., on her BMW BMW.XE -1.59% X5.
My senior year in high school, I was backcountry snowboarding when I attempted my first back flip. I landed on a rock and became paralyzed. It took two years to mourn and embrace my new life. I started playing wheelchair basketball. After winning a gold at the 2008 Paralympics, I moved to Colorado and started ski racing. In 2010, I became the first American female athlete to win golds in the summer and winter Paralympics.
This year, BMW sponsored me as part of their winter Performance Team at the Paralympic Games in Sochi. [The games run March 7 to 16.] I had a choice of cars, and I picked the X5. It's the perfect size for what I need. I put my bags and skis in back. I get into the driver's seat, pull both the big wheels off my chair and put them behind the seat, then I lift the chair frame across my body onto the passenger seat.
The car is modified in a simple way. It has two metal poles that attach to the pedals, with a handle joining the poles at the top end. Push forward to brake; push down for gas. I always have one hand on the wheel and one hand on the brake and gas. I travel so much competing and the car is kind of like a traveling home.
Contact A.J. Baime at Facebook.com/ajbaime
Fri Feb 21 2014 16:33:23 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)