New Beginnings


Paralympic Skier Danelle Umstead and guide dog Aziza

Early this summer, my guide dog, Bettylynn, was retired. She was diagnosed with optic nerve atrophy. She went completely blind in one eye. Bettylynn is doing great as the family dog. I think she misses guiding and does not understand why she isn’t. We still give her little jobs to keep her feeling like she is doing a job and gets rewarded for it. She is with our son all the time. Bettylynn loved guiding. What dog wouldn’t love it? They get to go everywhere with their owner, get treats all day for helping their owner, sniff all sorts of new smells and travel all over the world. Not a bad life. Bettylynn and our son have bonded even more lately. They are always together snuggling and playing. 


Meet Aziza! She is a happy yellow labrador retriever. Weight: 61.4 lbs., height: 23 inches. She loves her toys and loves to play. Aziza was born Feb. 25, 2012. She had two puppy raisers (one in California and one in Salt Lake City). Aziza went through all the training at school and graduated from Guide Dogs in Boring, Ore. She is beautiful!

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The Guiding Life of Bettylynn

Guide Dog Danelle Umstead Paralympic SkierBettylynn, my guide dog, born on Dec. 20, 2006; graduated as my guide dog in September 2008.

She has become an internationally known guide dog. She was the first guide dog to represent the U.S. in the Paralympic Winter Games in 2010. Along with all the athletes, she was welcomed into the White House and met President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. We have to gone to at least eight countries numerous times. She got to go on the field at Fenway Park and, with me, watch Rob throw the first pitch. Rob says she looks like she was going to chase the ball. Then after the pitch we all met our favorite athlete David Ortiz (Big Papi, #34). We have had so many adventures together.

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Ski Racing Down Under



Alpine Ski Racing Australia Paralympic Danelle Umstead

Just flying back from a three-week world cup tour of New Zealand and Australia. What a great trip it was. We did some training, racing and even had a little time to be tourists. This was our first time traveling down under and we really loved both countries. Our first stop was the small dairy town of Methven, New Zealand. The plan was to get a little super G training in as prep for our speed races there later in the trip. The weather was not very cooperative so we were limited to one day of freeskiing before heading south to Queenstown where we would compete at the NZ Winter Games. Read More

You can't give half the effort. You have to commit.


We had a week off between World Championships and going to Sochi, Russia for the World Cup Finals. Our goal for this trip was to do recon of the hill and prepare ourselves for 2014 Paralympic Games. Easier said than done. Going out the starting gate in a downhill race, I am committed. In a downhill race reaching speeds up to 65 mph there is no way to give half the effort. You have to commit. Downhill skiing is our favorite discipline. It is packed with fast speeds, extreme adventure, intense fear, pure trust, excitement and fun we (Rob and I) have on the course. I love downhill ski racing!

Due to very warm weather and very soft conditions the first day of training was cancelled. As a result, we had a downhill training run followed by a race the same day.

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