Striking a balance between career and life isn’t easy – especially if the career is that of a professional skier. It’s a life that involves endless travel, exhausting training and both physical and mental stress. Angeli VanLaanen has always been one of those rare athletes who has managed to bridge the gap between the two without sacrificing friendships, family, her health and personal time away from the sport.
Born and raised in Bellingham, Wash., VanLaanen grew up in the steep and deep terrain of Mt. Baker, one of the most raw and soulful ski areas in North America. For Angeli, best known for her park and pipe prowess, it may come as a surprise that her true background and skill set is in her backcountry abilities. Chasing her older brother Cachaulo off cliffs and through deep powder snow in northern Washington, Angeli developed a strong technical ability for skiing.
She has numerous contest accolades, X Games invites and the respect of her peers. Despite all the successes, Angeli struggled with understanding why her body wasn’t always reacting the way she’d like. From bouts of fatigue to unexplained ailments such as dizziness and body pain, something wasn’t right. After seeing numerous doctors who misdiagnosed her condition, Angeli was finally correctly diagnosed with Lyme disease in November of 2009.
After taking a couple years off from competing to combat the disease, Angeli is back in the spotlight, making podiums and qualifying for the US Olympic team.