Infected: circa 1995
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.