Angeli Vanlaanen

Professional Freeskiier

Infected: circa 1995
Diagnosed: 2009
Cured: Symptom-free as of 2012

Angeli Vanlaanen is a ferociously talented, goal-oriented young woman. An avid skier since she could stand on two skis, the Washington-born athlete moved to Colorado the moment she graduated from high school in 2005 to pursue freeskiing professionally. That year and the next, she won contests at the Vermont Open, and garnered invitations to the 2007, 2008 and 2009 X Games. She’s brought home gold medals from the World Cup and the New Zealand Open.

In constant pursuit of new challenges, Angeli completed the Alaska Heli Guide Course in 2010. Soon after, she became the first female athlete to spin over the legendary Mt. Baker Road Gap. The powerful Olympic contender was featured on the cover of Skiing Magazine in November of 2011.

Angeli maintained an active lifestyle despite years of unexplained health problems that began when she was ten years old. She experienced bouts of intense fatigue, fainting spells and migraines, among a variety of mysterious symptoms. Many physicians, specialists and misdiagnoses later, she was diagnosed with Lyme disease at the age of 24. Angeli describes the harrowing years of unexplained ill health on her blog, Living with Lyme: “Unfortunately, my story of going years undiagnosed is all too common.” She attributes her years of misdiagnosis in part to growing up on the West Coast: “…in Washington state, Lyme disease was not on anyone’s radar.”

After 2 ½ half years of aggressive treatment, Angeli is symptom-free. Her mission is to spread awareness about Lyme disease—particularly among youth. Angeli produced and starred in Lymelight, a film chronicling her experience battling Lyme while maintaining a competitive lifestyle (which you can see below). She acts as spokeswoman for Lymelight Foundation in Burlingame, CA.

Angeli competed in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi on the US Olympic Ski Team, halfpipe.

5 Comments on “Angeli Vanlaanen

  1. Hi, I think you know my sister, Claire Smallwood. I am inspired by you. I couldn’t watch the video right after diagnosis 4 months ago, but now I can. Key is off the skis, I think.. Anyway, hope to rip one with you someda. Be well.

  2. Hi Angeli! Thanks for making this documentary on Lyme disease and how it has affected you. I hope you are still doing well and staying strong. Are you currently receiving any treatment? My son and daughter in law live in Bellingham and I suspect you might have run into them on the mountain to in town.

    Keep well and God bless you.

  3. I love the video. I was just diagnosed with Lyme. I suspect I’ve had it for years, likely from childhood. I’ve been very physically active all of my life. Movement is a big part of my life and my identity. Getting this disease scares me. Thank you for creating this film. It is an inspiration that I will get better, and to stick to it.

    Carolina (Marin County, CA)

    1. Angeli is a remarkable and resilient champion who struggled through years of misdiagnosis and crippling pain while still competing successfully as a world-class athlete. When she was finally diagnosed with Lyme disease, she immediately began several years of aggressive antibiotic treatment — what friends described as a “huge mount of pills!” and would be hooked up to IVs for hours on end daily. At first she tried to keep skiing, but eventually she was forced to put it — and just about everything else — on hold. She didn’t ski for two years, cut back on most physical activity in order to protect her immune system, stopped drinking alcohol and completely changed her diet, all of which she believes were critical for her success. She has cut down on sugar and caffein, eats whole foods and follows a strict anti-inflammatory diet, practices meditative yoga, and has “honed in on a lifestyle change” that incorporates a holistic integrative approach to wellness. She talks about how it also took a change in mindset to really listen to her body first, making sure she gets sufficient rest and recovery, and is regularly monitored by her doctors to ensure that she remains in remission. Check out Angeli’s blog for more about her story.

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