Athletics & Recreation / Winter 2015

Paralympic skier and DU junior Jamie Stanton is making a name for himself on and off the slopes

Jamie Stanton was named to the 2013–14 U.S. Paralympics Alpine Skiing National Team and competed in the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. Photo courtesy of Jamie Stanton

Jamie Stanton was named to the 2013–14 U.S. Paralympics Alpine Skiing National Team and competed in the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. Photo courtesy of Jamie Stanton

Skiing has been a big deal at the University of Denver since 1964, when Willy Schaeffler and the Pioneer ski team won their first NCAA national championship. The program’s tradition of success brings competitive athletes to the mountains every winter to take to the slopes.

Sixty years after that first NCAA victory, one University of Denver student is making a name for himself as one of the most committed skiers the school has ever had. And he’s doing it all on one leg.

When Jamie Stanton was just 6 months old, the lower half of his right leg was amputated due to a congenital birth defect called fibular hemimelia, a growth deficiency of the fibula. However, after donning his first pair of skis at age 3, he never let his disability stop him from doing anything.

Stanton grew up in Clinton Township, Mich., where he captained the Rochester Adams High School ski and golf teams. He joined his sister, Brittany, on the ski team when he was a freshman in high school, though he never considered a future in competitive skiing until his victory at the Michigan Adapted Sports State Championships. He was invited back the next year, again taking home the title.

He had planned to attend Michigan State University until a serendipitous phone call from the University of Denver told Stanton he had won the Willy Schaeffler Scholarship, a full-ride scholarship that covers five years of school for disabled athletes and that allowed Stanton to take winter quarters off to train. The award was started in 1986 by Willy Schaeffler’s son, Jimmy Schaeffler. (Read more about Jimmy Schaeffler and the scholarship.)

“It changed my life on a dime. I went with my gut that this might turn into something special, and it did,” Stanton says. “Earning the Schaeffler Scholarship was one of the biggest things that has ever happened to me, one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. To have my name be a part of that legacy now is a really cool feeling, and I’m honored to be a part of it.”

Since arriving in Denver, Stanton has continued to develop as a skier. He was named to the 2013–14 U.S. Paralympics Alpine Skiing National Team and competed in the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. He competed in the super G, where he took sixth place, as well as the super combined (13th) and slalom (22nd).

“It was a really cool thing to look down and see ‘USA’ across your chest when you’re at the starting gate,” Stanton says. “And knowing that your whole country is behind you and you’re there for a reason is an incredible experience.”

Stanton’s schedule has him training and traveling most of the year. He was on the road for 195 days last year. Skiing has taken him to New Zealand, Australia, Austria and a myriad of other countries.

A junior finance major in the Daniels College of Business, Stanton hopes to become a stockbroker on Wall Street.

When he isn’t skiing, Stanton is an avid golfer and outdoorsman.

“I’m one of those people who’s very active, even missing a leg,” he says. “It’s cool to be able to be an ambassador and to have people look up to you. I think those who have had an amputation later in life, whether it’s military or a car accident or something random, I think they look up to you and say, ‘This kid has dealt with it his whole life, and look what he can do.’ It gives them hope, and I think it shows them that there’s still reason to live.”

4 Comments

  1. Grandma and Grandpa says:

    We are really proud of you and all you have accomplished. Love you lots

  2. Andy LeRoy says:

    You are an incredible ambassador Jamie and we could not be more proud of the journey you have taken. Thank for allowing us to be a part of your legacy too!

  3. Erik Prenzler says:

    According to my information, DU won it’s first NCAA skiing championship in 1951 (A Tribute to Champions, 1985).

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