Alpine skier Mollie Jepsen, who won gold for Canada’s first medal at the Beijing Paralympic Games, will close the Games in spectacular fashion.
The 22-year-old from West Vancouver, British Columbia was named Canada’s flag bearer for Sunday’s closing ceremonies.
Jepsen, who won gold and silver in Beijing despite an ACL injury that required surgery upon returning home, called it “the honor of a lifetime”.
“Things have been really tough for the past four years and going into these Games I wasn’t sure where I would be and how it would go,” she said. “I was able to get on the podium like in 2018, but to be able to represent all the athletes who have done such great things here and who have competed with their hearts at the Games, it is incredible, and it is an honor that I will cherish for the rest of my life.”
Jepsen, who was born with missing fingers in her left hand and skis with a pole, opened the Games with gold in the downhill, then added silver in the giant slalom on Friday, for six career Paralympic medals – two of each color.
After the Pyeongchang Games four years ago, she was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and it cost her the entire 2018-19 season. The COVID-19 pandemic then wiped out the Canadian ski team, but they were able to return to the slopes this season, reaching the podium in their nine international races before the Games.
“I’m really happy to be back at the Games and playing the way I hoped,” she said.
Canada’s Head of Mission, Josh Dueck, said Jepsen is a “fantastic example of perseverance, resilience and the power of the human spirit.”
“She overcame so many challenges over the past four years and to be here in Beijing, running so well and winning two medals is an incredible achievement,” Dueck said. “She’s an incredible and passionate leader who loves her sport so much.”
The Canadian team will finish with 24 guaranteed medals, possibly one more, the second most in team history after the 28 won in Pyeongchang. Canada is third overall behind China and Ukraine.
Curler Ina Forrest and hockey player Greg Westlake carried the Canadian flag during the opening ceremonies last week at Bird’s Nest Stadium.