Muffy Davis started skiing when she was three years old and four years later vowed that she was going to win a gold medal in the Olympics one day.   With that kind of drive, the Idaho native did not allow permanent paralysis to get in her way. After hitting a tree and shattering her helmet during a downhill training run, the then 16-year-old elite junior racer was paralyzed from the chest down. She would have to live a different life in a wheelchair, but on her terms and one that would somehow still include skiing. She still wanted to win medals; and she did. A LOT. As an elite Paralympian she has four as a skier and three golds for hand cycling: Not content just to have survived the accident, she proclaimed herself a SurThriver.” Her subsequent roles ranged from becoming a wife and mother and a legislator for her home state of Idaho

There is a saying that some people live a lifetime in a minute. Muffy Davis lived a substantial part of life in the milliseconds by which ski races are decided. Add them all up over her storied career and it culminates in a life of fulfillment that she said she would never change

Many skiers still crave the adrenaline rush of speed long after they retire.   what do you do to satisfy it

I switched from skiing to hand cycling where I could go downhill at 60 miles per hour

How did the adaptive coaches handle your situation

When I was first injured, I was told that the injuries were too severe and too high up and I’d never be able to race but I might be able to ski at some point. In hindsight it was a good motivator because it pissed me off so much I was determined to learn how to race again. Adaptive skiing is all about getting the right equipment. And when I got it things started to fall into place. Then my issue was the line. I always knew the fast line, but I didn’t have the skill to hold on to it, so I blew out in every race. I had to learn how to slow down and work up to the fast line until I had the skill to hold it


Many people still view skiing as a European sport What do you think needs to be done to make it more popular in the U.S.

We’re trying to introduce the sport to first generation skiers and to people that have never been able to afford it. We’re trying to find resources via nonprofits and organizations who can provide grants and equipment for the season. Any way we can to expose people to the sport. Someone started a Latino ski club out here

Is it possible to get fans to look at the U.S. ski team as a cohesive unit instead of just focusing on Lindsey and Mikaela .

It’s hard but The USOPC is doing a lot of good work now. They’ve started a whole new athlete marketing program.  All their top sponsors can get exposed to see all the different athletes they may not have been exposed to marketing program.   All the top sponsors can get exposed to see all the different athletes they may not have considered otherwise. The sponsors usually grab the winners first and then the pretty girls. Lindsey and Mikaela are gorgeous women and it’s hard to diversify. it’s always been a challenge


What is the Paralympic atmosphere like and is there a media market for it

It’s getting better now that some sponsors are getting involved. Two years ago, Toyota ran a Superbowl ad featuring Lauren Woolstencroft.; an eight time gold medalist for Canada She was born missing her left arm below the elbow and both legs below the knees She is n eight-time gold medal winner. Sponsors are getting involved and recognizing and recognizing Paralympic athletes as marketable. Our world cups are interesting. We don’t go to the big resorts like St. Moritz, but we get to go to cool smaller places. I’ve actually raced in Austria with cows on the side of the hill


 You did not go to med school in favor pursuing skiing full time what drew you to that

I always wanted to be a doctor. My dad is a physician Itis was a wonderful way to help people. I’m very fascinated with anatomy, and how the body works This was about the same time I became proficient in mono skiing. I thought it would kill my spirit to spend another six years in a classroom having just finished four years at Stanford.

Your dad was the doctor on call and was the first to read your X rays in the ER. Were you cognizant of that

My dad said I asked him if I was paralyzed so I must have been, but I don’t have any recollection of it

If a person was not as blessed as you with a great support system as you had, what advice would you give them

They need to seek those people out be it in a support group or people you met in the rehab hospital. Good physical therapists will ask you what you want to achieve and set up a plan on how to get you there. Good friends will also ask you “How can I help “You want to have those types of people in your social circle.

Sponsors usually go for the winners first and the pretty girls and Lindsey Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin are gorgeous women

Did the accident shake your faith at all

Absolutely.  At first, I was pissed.  It wasn’t fair It shouldn’t have happened to me did the whole grieving thing, Then one night I had a lot of fear, anger and anxiety. I had a conversation with my higher power. What I heard was this didn’t happen for a reason but there are reasons behind it and when I’ve learned those lessons and passed them on, I’ll walk again. Do I take that to mean I’ll walk on this earth or the afterlife? I don’t know, I don’t put limitations on it Ever since that moment in the rehab hospital I’ve had an overall sense of peace

Even though the Tokyo Olympics have been postponed what potential ramifications for the sport do worry you do you foresee if COVID is still around for the next winter games

I worry immensely if the games don’t take place in about the Olympics and Paralympics worst case scenario would be a modified Games with no spectators I worry immensely if they were not to go ahead (for a long time) I think both would be hurt incredibly I feel bad for the athletes because this might be their only shot.

In her book, Picabo said your injury really put hers in perspective. Talk to me a little about your relationship with her

Growing up We were not friends We were anything but. We were hyper competitive but respectful of each other, but nothing would piss the other one off more than seeing the other one win. She beat me more than I beat her but a few times I got her, and she did not like it. then I had my accident and didn’t see her for a few years. Of course, I’m wallowing in my loss and pity and not really realizing how it affected anyone else and how hard it was for her to have a colleague who had a life changing accident because of racing. When we did reconnect, it was very healing for both of us she helped make me as good as I was, I had to go 100% all the time because if I slacked off, I knew she would get me. I think that rivalry was healthy and made us as good as we were. I think if you asked her, she would say the same thing

How did you get into politics

I’ve always enjoyed leadership, whether it was school leadership (student body president college senate never did I think I would be in traditional politics But when I told my daughter that Trump won the election in 2016, When we told her that Trump had won, she cried and said, “Oh no, now all my friends are going to have to leave.” We have a big Hispanic community here (Hayley (Id.) and she was really worried having heard the rhetoric that he was going to kick the Latinos and undocumented workers out of the country. I told her no, that’s not going to happen I got involved with local stuff to show her when you disagree with something, you get involved and do something about it instead of complaining about it. That led up to ultimately running for statewide office.



Your party successfully ran a presidential campaign on a platform of positivity, embracing adversity and self-empowerment These are the very values you espouse How gratifying was that experience

It was amazing I’m very excited to see the result I hope we can unify our country. It’s a shame to see it so divided.

Whether you fall toward the left, right, or the middle, I think we all want the same things. I think people want better for our children, better healthcare, good jobs, and to make ends meet, the basics and we have different ideas about how to accomplish it, but the problem is we stopped talking about those ideas with each other and go into our little separate corners

If a girl with a spinal cord injury can go out and represent her country and reach her dreams this really is the land of opportunity and we just need to make sure it’s the land of opportunity for all. This country is One America and we’re all part of Team USA

Do you still allow yourself grieving days

Absolutely. Most of the time it has nothing to do with being in a wheelchair I’m the mom of a 12-year-old and a wife life is hard for most people some of the time I like to think I’m pretty independent most of the time it doesn’t this morning I tried to transfer and totally missed it and ended up on the floor I called my husband and said “I need help this sucks but that’s life





If your injury had been so severe that you would not have been able to ski again do you think you still could have found a path to happiness I think so, I’m a glass half full kind of person

Before my accident there were 10,000 things I could do.  do Now since I’m paralyzed, there’s 5,000 and in one lifetime, I can only accomplish 3,000. I really wish I had two lifetimes because there’s so much to be done, maybe my choices are a little more limited but there is still lots to accomplish