Olympic skier Andrea Mead Lawrence dies at 76
April 1, 2009
MAMMOTH LAKES, Calif. ” Andrea Mead Lawrence, who in 1952 earned the distinction of being the only American skier to win two gold medals in a single Winter Olympics, has died at age 76.
Lawrence, who had suffered from cancer since 2000, died at her Mammoth Lakes home early Monday surrounded by her five children, four grandchildren and the mountains she loved, according to her daughter-in-law, Mary Lawrence.
“Her wish was always to die in her own home. She has a beautiful bedroom that looks out in the trees and she could see the birds from her window and the beautiful light,” her daughter-in-law said.
Born in Rutland, Vermont in 1932, Lawrence grew up skiing at the resort her parents founded. She competed in three Winter games, her first when she was just 15-years-old, and was captain of the women’s team during the games in Oslo, Norway where she won the gold medals in the slalom and giant slalom.
“When I got into the starting gate, it was like a deep, dark, still pool of black water, which is a metaphor and it’s a very powerful metaphor,” she said during an interview last month with Vermont Public Radio of winning the slalom run. “And when the count came down, I just went like a bullet down the course.”
Until 1972, she was the only woman skier in the world to win two golds in the same Olympics. But her position as the only American skier with that achievement stood until the end of her life.
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Lawrence moved to Mammoth Lakes with her children in the mid-1960s and spent her later years as an environmental activist working to protect the Eastern Sierra Nevada. She served 16 years as a Mono County Supervisor, co-founded the Southern Mono Historical Society in 1983 and the Sierra Nevada Alliance.
In 2003, she founded the Andrea Lawrence Institute for Mountains and Rivers, a nonprofit dedicated to environmental planning and education.
A private funeral is planned for later this week and plans for a public memorial are pending, her daughter-in-law said.