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Famous five for LMU student

Winner of the Games

München, 03/17/2014

The Paralympic Games 2014 are now history. The plane bringing the German team home from Sochi landed in Frankfurt last Monday, and on board was the most successful female participant of all.

Anna Schaffelhuber (Source: Allianz)
Thanks to her overwhelming success and her appealing personality, Anna Schaffelhuber was the acknowledged star of the show at Sochi. See the Picture Gallery. (Source: Allianz)

These were undoubtedly Anna Schaffelhuber’s Games. By winning no fewer than five gold medals, she has pulled off a feat which has few equals in the history of the Paralympics. The 21-year-old monoskier made a clean sweep of the five alpine races on the program. In doing so, she not only inscribed her name in the history books, she has also become what some are already calling the “Cover Girl for Disabled Sports in Germany”. Her emergence into the limelight is the reward for years of hard work. Her five-fold triumph in Sochi was anything but a foregone conclusion.

It was no picnic!
After having been named as Disabled Sportswoman of the Year in 2013, Anna Schaffelhuber set her sights on winning a gold medal at the Paralympics. And she lost no time in fulfilling this ambition, winning her very first event: In the Downhill race in the resort of Rosa Chutor near Sochi, she bested the competition, reaching a top speed of 130 km/h. Nevertheless, it was a close-run thing. After the first round she had a comfortable lead of 3 seconds. In the end, her margin of victory over her American rival Alana Nichols was a tight 0.14 seconds. “I’m so happy, I can’t really believe it. Having reached my most cherished goal, all the pressure is now gone,” said Schaffelhuber immediately afterwards. In her second event, the Super-G, conditions on the slopes were more difficult, due to the unseasonably high temperatures. “I said to myself, ‘Anna, you’ve got your gold. Now it’s up to the others.’” But the others, her closest competitors, took too many risks and failed to finish. Anna not only made it to the finish, she again got there quicker than anybody else. A second feather in her cap!

Next up was the Slalom, Schaffelhuber’s particular specialty. By the end of the first round, she was at the head of the field – but not for long! The Austrian team lodged a protest against her for allegedly infringing the rules as she got underway, and she was disqualified. The German team, in turn, strenuously protested against her disqualification, and succeeded in persuading the jury to at least allow her to take part in the second run, pending a final decision. Undaunted by the uncertainty, Schaffelhuber made no mistakes ­– although at first nobody in the crowd knew how good her time was (it was not shown on the digital display!). Then it became clear that she still topped the list. – However, she had to wait until the next day for the final decision, when an official hearing by the International Paralympic Committee concluded that she had not breached any rules in her first run. Three gold medals in the bag! “I’m glad that all doubts have been dispelled,” she said after the 3-hour hearing.

This sense of relief allowed Schaffelhuber, a native of Regensburg, to concentrate her thoughts on the last two disciplines – the Super Combination and the Giant Slalom – and her winning streak continued. Once again, her times – many of which are comparable to the best achieved by her male counterparts – were in a class of their own and, in the end, she had won everything she could win: five gold medals. Before the Games began, Schaffelhuber knew that she was among the favorites in all five disciplines – but the possibility that she might take the top spot in all of them never entered her mind. “It’s all been a waking dream. I am tremendously pleased, even though I haven’t yet realized what it all means“, she says. “I still haven’t woken up to it,” she adds.

Career goal: Public prosecutor
When Anna Schaffelhuber is not on the ski-slopes, she is hard at work at LMU, where she studies Law. “The legal profession has always interested me,” she says, and her professional goal is to become a public prosecutor. Although her sporting career is facilitated by LMU’s status as an Official Partner of the Olympic Training Center in Bavaria, it is still difficult to reconcile the demands of top-level sports – especially winter sports – with those of university studies. But Professor Helmut Satzger, her mentor in the Law Faculty, has no doubt that Anna has what it takes to succeed. “The moment I met her, Anna Schaffelhuber made a strong impression on me. It is very hard to combine the study of law with a sporting career. She knew that even then, but she has never been deterred by the difficulty. She wanted to study law, and she is determined to master the challenges it involves,” he says.

Schaffelhuber’s days are filled with unceasing activity. She is always on the go, on the way to a competition or another arduous training session. That she never lets her studies suffer is a tribute not only to her ambition, but also to her strong sense of self-reliance. “I am quite certain that, if she continues to apply herself as she does now, she will be able to complete her studies with distinction. She is a marvelous student and a marvelous sportswoman, and we are all proud of her,” Satzger says. And he hopes that, in spite of her many commitments, she will find the time to savor her sporting successes. Although the World Cup season is over, the usual calls on her time will continue. – But there will be lots more requests for interviews and, in no time at all, the next course of lectures at LMU will be upon her...