Andrea Mead Lawrence in the news
Olympic Champion Andrea Mead Lawrence
Honored at 2002 Winter Games
Three-time Olympian Andrea Mead Lawrence was honored in many ways at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. She won the 2001 Havoline Star Award in recognition of her many contributions to the environment and the Eastern Sierra community.
She was also honored as the Greatest Winter Olympian ofall time by sports filmmaker Bud Greenspan in partnership with General Motors. In addition, Andrea carried the olympic torch along with her daughter, Quentin Lawrence, on its journey to the Games in Salt Lake City. She also skied with the flame into the stadium at the 1960 Olympics in Squaw Valley—the first woman to carry the torch into the lighting ceremony.
The Havoline Star Award recognizes US Ski and Snowboard Team alumni who have given back to their communities in meaningful ways by employing the same passion and energy they used to become a national team member.
Bud Greenspan and the General Motors Award recognize her athletic and post-Games contributions both athletically and the work she has done for her community as the world's greatest winter Olympian.
At the Oslo Games in 1952, Andrea became the first US alpine skier and first woman in the world to win two gold medals in one Winter Games. She is still the only American double-gold medalist in alpine skiing. The 2002 Winter Games marked the 50th anniversary of her amazing accomplishment.
"Your life doesn't stop by winning medals. It's only the beginning. And if you have the true Olympic spirit, you have to put it back into the world in meaningful ways."
Since the end of her racing career, Andrea has focused on protecting the environment, primarily in the Eastern Sierra, where she has lived since 1968. Lawrence has been an active member of the Eastern Sierra community, helping to found the Friends of Mammoth, and serving on the Mono County Board of Supervisors for 16 years. Just recently Andrea was also the recipient of the Sierra Business Council's Vision 20/20 Lifetime Achievement Award for her extraordinary efforts to secure the economic and environmental health of the Sierra Nevada for this and futuregenerations. Andrea has been a longtime advocate for Mono Lake's protection, and is on the Mono Lake Committee Board of Directors.
Standing Alone in the Hall of Fame
Andrea Mead Lawrence
When it comes to skiing legends, Andrea Mead Lawrence stands alone.
The only American woman to take home two gold medals in skiing from the same Olympics—at age 19 no less—Lawrence, now 76, has also been hailed by Sports Illustrated as Vermont's greatest athlete of the 20th century.
This weekend the southern Vermont native and daughter of the founder of Pico Peak ski area will again stand alone when she became the first skier to be inducted into the Vermont Ski Hall of Fame as part of the Vermont Ski Museum's Grand Opening weekend. Lawrence donated one of her gold medals—the slalom medal—to the ski museum. The other will remain out West where she makes her home.
From her home in Mammoth Lakes, California, Lawrence spoke about the changing face of the skiing industry, the importance of mountains and, of course, the honor bestowed on her.
"I'm just hugely honored to be inducted," said Lawrence, whose image (in a race in the 50s) is used in the ski museum's logo. "Plus, I'm on the sign, in knickers at that. It's all too good to be true."
"Too good to be true" is also a good description for Lawrence's entrenchment in the skiing life.
As a child, Lawrence, who has five children of her own, spent her days on Pico Peak, the ski area her parents founded in 1937. Like the many firsts in their daughter's life, Andrea Mead Lawrence's parents had their own, including the first alpine lift in the US, which was installed in 1941 and drew 10,000 people to the area on its first day of operation.
The introduction of such technology at Pico, around the state, and around the country inevitably began changing the face of skiing. For Lawrence, the direction the sport has taken is not one she champions. She prefers the way it was.
"Of course, when I started skiing in Vermont, there weren't things like grooming and snowmaking," Lawrence said. "Dealing with the natural conditions made you a better skier. When we learned toski, we had to be in control. Skiing has to be a bit of a challenge, and I don't think we have very much of that today."
But Lawrence returned in 1952, to the Oslo Olympics, taking golds in the slalom and giant slalom, and then in Cortina D'Ampezzo, Italy in 1956, her final Olympic foray, she placed fourth in the GS. Meanwhile back home she was national champion in ten events between 1949 and 1955, in giant slalom, downhill, slalom and the combined.
Her retirement from international competition coincided with great growth in the sport. Highways were being constructed carrying more and more people eager to slide on snow at new ski areas springing up around the United States. Companies improved skis and binding and clothing, making the sport a little easier and, most would say, more fun. But with all the innovations and fast lifts and slopeside lodging, something has been lost, Lawrence said.
To a great extent the changes in the sport pushed Lawrence to become an environmental activist. From serving on the Mono County Board of Supervisors from 1982 to 1999 to forming the Sierra Nevada Alliance, a network of 50 community-based environmental action groups, her focus has moved from the slopes (snowshoeing and cross-country skiing instead of going downhill these days) to the landscape itself.
Lawrence saw firsthand the toll skiing has taken on the environment, she said. From resort expansion on private land in the east to the growth of ski areas on public lands in the west, she is troubled by what she sees as a lost connection between skiers and the mountains that make the sport they love possible.
"People also need to realize that there is more to the mountains than just vertical feet. The mountain experience is a powerful thing. Mountains are one-fifth of the world's landscape and provide homes for one-tenth of the world's population. We need to move more toward mountains as sacred things. Mountains are presences. That's where we need to focus our energy, not at putting up more resorts."
by Ethan Dezotelle, 8/15/2002
The Stowe Reporter
Andrea Mead Lawrence: California State Park Ranger Association Honorary State Park Ranger, 1999
Andrea Mead Lawrence was selected as Honorary State Park Ranger due to her direct support to the efforts of California State Park Ranger Association, for her advocacy of California's State Parks and for a lifetime of contribution to the conservation movement.
As a longtime resident of the Eastern Sierra Nevada and member of the Mono County Board of Supervisors, Ms. Lawrence has been an ardent supporter of both Bodie State Historic Park and Mono Lake Tufa State Reserve. Her activism on behalf of Bodie led her to testify before the US Congress in support of the Bodie Protection Act, at a time when all other Mono County Board of Supervisor members were opposing the CSPRA-sponsored legislation.
She also spearheaded the formation of a local citizens committee which served as the Mono County compliment to the larger "SAVE BODIE!" committee of CSPRA. Her involvement with Mono Lake includes efforts to create the Mono Lake National Scenic Area.
As an elected official, Ms. Lawrence was a leader in protecting her county's open spaces, wildlife habitat, recreation areas, water resources and air quality. For decades she has championed wilderness causes and co-founded the Sierra Nevada Alliance in 1993 to push for comprehensive policy and land use decisions to preserve this bioregion.