Allison Baver is Ready to Compete in the 2010 Winter Olympics
by Marni Prichard Manko
Allison Baver is among the top short-track speed skaters in the world, having won more medals on the World Cup circuit than any other female US speed skater in the past 15 years. But her ascent to the top has been anything but smooth as ice. Over the course of her career, the 29-year-old Reading, Pennsylvania, native has had her face sliced open by the blade of a competitor’s skate, suffered a bone bruise while skating in the 2006 Torino Winter Olympics (an injury that left her out of medal contention) and, less than a year ago, shattered her ankle and leg in four places during a competition, rendering her unable to walk for two and a half months. Medical experts and sports analysts proclaimed this was the end of the twice-prior Olympian’s career, positing that it was time she hung up her signature pink skates for good. But today Baver’s challenging the cynics by lacing up in Vancouver as part of the elite 2010 US Olympic speed skating team.
Outside the rink, Baver is all about breaking boundaries. Notably, she worked toward her MBA while training for the 2006 Olympics (she received her degree in 2007) and later started a charity called Off the Ice, with the goal of helping Philadelphia’s inner-city kids get off the streets and into sports and recreation in order to develop healthy lifestyles. But her overarching goal is to inspire young girls to forge their way into womanhood with pride, character and selfrespect. “You don’t sacrifice your whole life—emotions, feelings, friends, family—just for the Olympics,” she says emphatically. “You can’t do that without there being a bigger purpose. That would be selfish. It’s truly about being a role model or a positive influence in someone’s life.”
And to demonstrate that world-class female athletes can still embrace their femininity, this self-proclaimed girly-girl just signed on with Wilhelmina Sports, the internationally renowned modeling agency’s athletic division. “I signed with Wilhelmina to prove that just because you’re a girl, it doesn’t mean that you can’t do what you want to do. It doesn’t mean you can’t play sports—and it surely doesn’t mean that you can’t wear makeup if you do,” says Baver, who also has a coveted contract with Procter & Gamble Beauty, parent company of Cover Girl and Pantene.
When talking about the Vancouver games, she admits that she wouldn’t be content with anything short of total domination. “It’s all about the gold medal, gold medal, gold medal,” she laughs. “But no matter what happens at the Olympics, I’m putting all of my heart and energy to my goal. Whether I accomplish it or fail, I did everything I absolutely could. Absolutely everything.” Spoken like a true Olympian.
Wheaties and Disneyland? So passé. Baver’s ultimate dream is to win ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. This ex-dancer (whose attempt to make the 76ers dance team in the ’90s was cut short during fi rst-round tryouts by a jazz number gone wrong) is rumored to have helped her former boyfriend and fellow Olympian Apolo Anton Ohno cha-cha and paso doble his way to winning first place on the hit TV show.
PHOTOGRAPH BY RICCARDO SAVI; SHOT ON LOCATION AT THE BROADMOOR, COLORADO SPRINGS. HAIR AND MAKEUP BY THE SPA AT THE BROADMOOR; BROADMOOR.COM