Living with Lyme - Angeli VanLaanen in photos
Angeli VanLaanen first competed at X Games in 2007, when she was in the midst of a flourishing career as a professional freeskier. But then in November 2009, she was diagnosed with Lyme disease.
Returning To The Pipe
VanLaanen returned to competition just in time to qualify for the first U.S. Olympic ski halfpipe team, which will make its debut in Sochi, Russia. VanLaanen will compete in the women's halfpipe contest on Feb. 20.
Going to Sochi
"I'm on top of the world right now. [I] just went out, skied my best, it felt amazing to land my run, and it's a dream come true to be on the team going to Sochi," VanLaanen said after securing her Olympic spot at the Park City Grand Prix prior to X Games Aspen.
A Big Return
Last season, VanLaanen returned to halfpipe competition for the first time since 2009, ending up in ninth place on the Association of Freeskiing Professionals' ranking for women's halfpipe. VanLaanen competed at X Games Aspen this past January and placed seventh in the Women's Ski SuperPipe finals.
"I am currently in remission from Lyme disease, which means I am symptom free. With no way to test if the bacteria is completely gone, remission is the best-case scenario for someone with late-stage Lyme disease like myself," VanLaanen says.
The Cards We're Dealt
VanLaanen was diagnosed with Lyme in November 2009 after 14 years of misdiagnosis. "It's not the hand we are dealt in life, it's how we play the cards," she says.
In addition to her halfpipe skiing, VanLaanen is also a well-rounded freeskier. Here she is jumping the Mount Baker, Wash., road gap.
VanLaanen grew up in Bellingham, Wash., where she grew up skiing at nearby Mount Baker.
"I learned to trust my instincts about what's best for my body," VanLaanen says. "Nobody can know your body better than you do, so it's important to be proactive and aware of what you need."
In Her Element
"My Lyme disease diagnosis, after not knowing for so many years, has been mentally difficult, not physically," VanLaanen once said. "I just need to remember that I can still ski halfpipe."