Double bonus for dual citizen Schleper at worlds

Thu Feb 12, 2015 8:14pm EST
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

BEAVER CREEK, Colorado (Reuters) - Dual citizen Sarah Schleper felt twice blessed at the alpine ski world championships on Thursday as she competed in the women's giant slalom in front of her hometown crowds under the flag of Mexico.

Born in nearby Glenwood Springs and a product of Ski and Snowboard Club Vail, Schleper represented the United States at four Winter Olympics and five world championships before retiring from the sport in December 2011.

Fast forward a little more than three years and Schleper is back in action. Having married a Mexican in 2007, she made the decision last June to return to competition under the banner of her husband's country.

"I am just so proud to represent Mexico," Schleper, who became a Mexican citizen last April, said after finishing a creditable 50th in the giant slalom with a combined time of two minutes, 31.73 seconds at Beaver Creek.

"I love the country, I love the people. I never dreamed I would be anything but an American, so this in itself is a dream."

Asked what had prompted her to come out of retirement last year, the 35-year-old skier replied: "As my husband is Mexican, it was a way for me to continue in a very fun way.

"It's great to be ski racing still at my age and be able to continue to have dreams and aspirations. And I know pretty much everyone in the stands here. I grew up in this town and they have seen me grow up from a little baby," added Schleper, who splits her time between Vail and Mexican resort of Los Cabos.

Schleper was greeted by thunderous roars from the packed grandstand as she crossed the finish line after clocking a time of 1:14.39 on the plunging Raptor racecourse in the afternoon run.   Continued...

Feb 12, 2015; Beaver Creek, CO, USA; Sarah Schleper of Mexico during run one of the womens giant slalom in the FIS alpine skiing world championships at Raptor Racecourse. Mandatory Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports