Mammoth Lakes, CA – The skiing world is mourning the passing of one of the sport’s superstars, three-time Olympian Andrea Mead Lawrence, who died Tuesday at age 76 surrounded by family and friends after a long battle with cancer.
Mead Lawrence’s generous spirit and sense of sportsmanship developed through her intimate love for the mountains where she was born in Rutland, Vt. Her parents owned nearby Pico Mountain ski area.
At age 14 “Andy” Mead was the youngest athlete ever to be chosen for the 1948 U. S. Women’s Olympic Alpine Ski Team (’48, ’52, ’56), and she garnered numerous awards in national and international championships from 1948 – 1952, including the 1948 Austrian National Championships, and the 1950 U. S. National Championships in Sun Valley, Idaho.
Mead Lawrence’s transcendent moment came while winning two gold medals (Slalom and Giant Slalom) at the 1952 Winter Olympics, in a come-from-behind performance Olympic historian Bud Greenspan called, “The greatest attempt at immortality in the Olympic Games.”
Mead-Lawrence is recognized one of the best women skiers in the world, who captivated an entire nation, and was a celebrity in her time. Her story of personal challenge and triumph was enriched by a philosophical worldview: mountains are sacred, and skiing is an art. She was an archetype of the pure amateur athlete, competing only for the love of the sport, to “make beautiful runs” through the gates.
“Andrea Mead Lawrence was one of the most respected champions of all time,” said U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association President and CEO Bill Marolt. “As a teenager, she led by her example of perseverance in never giving up. Nearly a half century later, she remains a distinguished role model for today’s athletes.”
Mead Lawrence’s quiet intensity and love of the mountains infused a political career, culminating in the formation of the Andrea Lawrence Institute for Mountains and Rivers in 2003, a non-profit organization that oversees environmental conservation and responsible land use in the Eastern Sierras and Mono Lake region of California.
Coincidently, ISHA is in Mammoth holding a Board of Directors meeting and its members will be viewing an advance screening of “The Andrea Mead Lawrence Story”, a film directed by Allison Pobrislo.
According to Barry Stone, Chairman of ISHA, “Andy was instrumental in helping raise large sums of money for the U.S. Olympic Committee. I was the Northeast chairman for the USOC Andrea came to several of our events lending her personality and style to the cause. I was lucky enough to forerun a dual slalom ski race against Andy and the results shall remain confidential.”
Throughout her life, she remained one of America’s most foremost spokespersons for her sport and the Olympics. She was inducted in the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame in 1958 and was recently nominated by the USSA for consideration for the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame.