PLAINS TWP. — Stephanie Jallen said she never thought about being someone else’s inspiration.
But now, as she trains for the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games, being inspirational has turned into a way of life for the 21-year-old alpine skier.
The PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games will be held for 10 days — March 9 to 18 — in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province, South Korea.
Jallen won two bronze medals at the 2014 Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
“I guess I realized when I returned from Sochi how what I did there affected everyone around me,” Jallen said. “I’ve always just been me being me. But that experience made me realize what I accomplished.”
Jallen was at Danko’s All American Fitness in Plains Township, where she trains with “Team Jallen” — herself, head trainer Ernie Baul and Dante Molino, of Wyoming Valley Prosthetics & Orthotics.
“If I didn’t have those two working so closely with me, I don’t know what I would do,” Jallen said. “They have always gone above and beyond for me.”
Jallen, who lives in Harding and graduated from Wyoming Area High School in 2014, is a junior at King’s College. She is taking three semesters off to prepare, train and compete in the 2018 Paralympic Games. Jallen is majoring in business and hopes to make a career out of motivational speaking.
But her focus now is 2018 and South Korea, where Jallen will compete in all five alpine skiing events — slalom, giant slalom, super G (giant slalom), super combined and downhill.
To get ready for the Paralympics, Jallen trains with Baul six days a week, taking Sundays off. She does strength training, aerobics, agility, endurance and balance. She also heads to Mammoth, California, every month to ski on snow.
Jallen was born with C.H.I.L.D. syndrome — Congenital hemidysplasia with ichthyosiform erythroderma and limb defects — a condition that affects the development of several parts of the body. The signs and symptoms of the disorder are typically limited to either the right side or the left side of the body.
For Jallen, her left side was affected — as she described, she has “a little arm and a little leg.” She has had to learn how to balance herself. Molino has worked with her since she was a baby, fitting her with the correct prosthetic. Most recently, Jallen was fitted with a running leg — a carbon blade device that has helped her in her training. Jallen also has another prosthetic for when she isn’t training.
But when she’s on the slopes, Jallen can’t wear any prosthetics. She has learned to use her left side disabilities to her advantage.
Baul, a former Navy SEAL who has trained Jallen since she was 9, said Jallen has always had a great attitude. He said he’s not surprised that she has become a world-class elite athlete.
“Look, there’s no book on training a one-armed, one-legged skier,” Baul said as Jallen let out with a typical giggle. “And both missing limbs are on the same side of her body. No one else in the world has been able to get to where she is with what she has had to deal with.”
Jallen said Baul and Molino are to be credited for getting her ready to compete. She said her family has been there for her as well — her mom, Deb Jallen, sister, Sarah Jallen, and her dad, Mike Jallen.
Jallen said she has been talking to an agent about motivational speaking, something she has already done in high schools, colleges and universities.
“I’ll talk to anybody who will listen,” Jallen said.
Competing in alpine skiing makes her sort of “normal,” Jallen said.
“It really gives me purpose,” she said. “I’m very competitive. My mom never said to me that I couldn’t do this or that.”
When reached Friday, Jallen was spreading mulch with her boyfriend. She said she loves to plant flowers and vegetables, but is working on her green thumb. She also loves pizza from Tommy’s in Kingston.
“I once ate a whole large pie by myself,” she said.
She has met ambassadors, senators, presidents and other VIPs. She said her favorite dessert is apple strudel in Austria.
At 21, Jallen’s future is ahead of her. But her journey so far has been pretty amazing.
“Like I said, I’m just me being me,” she said.
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.
HOW TO HELP
The Stephanie Jallen Comedy/Dinner show will be held on Saturday, Sept. 30, at Mount Carmel Hall of St. Joseph Marello Parish, Williams Street, Pittston. The BYOB event will also offer liquid refreshments of beer and soda.
More details will follow. Jallen will attend the event.
She also is available for speaking engagements. Call 570-362-2898 for details and availability.
For more information about Jallen, visit stephaniejallen.org.