Parisien was 19 and had just graduated from Burke. The stands were packed with classmates, family, and friends. “There’s a picture I have from that day that means so much to me. I’m in the finish, my hands in the air. I’m facing the audience, and in the audience you can see all these people from my life—classmates, family, my brother, who’s now passed—and everyone’s going crazy. That picture is a history of my life. I’d love to see another athlete have that at Killington, to win in front of people who know you and supported you.”
Times have changed, and now 25 years later there’ll be a World Cup GS on Saturday and a slalom on Sunday, Nov. 26 and 27.
“I hope security’s not crazy and people can walk up the hill and get close,” says Parisien, now a nurse and mother of three living in Augusta, Maine. “That was part of what was so cool about Waterville. The spectators were so close. I basically sprayed them in the finish.”
Parisien’s moment atop the racing world was all too brief. In the 1992 Olympics, she was fifth in the GS. The next day, she won the first run of slalom, then finished fourth, 0.05 seconds out of the medals. Later that year her brother was killed by a hitand-run drunk. And like a lot of U.S. Team women in that era, Parisien burned out. “Racing just lost its fun.” After a slalom win in 1993 (also on American snow: Park City) she never won again.
Nothing ever came close to that day at Waterville Valley. “That was my career right there,” she says. “I was fourth and fifth in the Olympics, and I won a silver in Worlds, but that was the most awesome moment of my career. It’s the moment I take the most pride in. I set out to win that day, and then I just did it.” ●