Lawrence, Andrea Mead (1932—)
Lawrence, Andrea Mead (1932—)
American Alpine skier who was the first American—female or male—to win two gold medals in a single Winter Olympics. Name variations: Andrea Mead; Andy Mead. Born Andrea Mead in Rutland, Vermont, on April 19, 1932; daughter of Janet Mead and Bradford Mead; married Dave Lawrence (a skier), in 1951 (divorced 1967); children: five.
After Alpine skiing became popular in the United States in the early 20th century, the Winter Olympics did much to promote it. The success of the American women's Alpine ski team in the 1948 and 1952 games created public enthusiasm for the sport, and Andrea Mead Lawrence played a major role in that success.
Born Andrea Mead, known as Andy, in Rutland, Vermont, in 1932, she grew up in the backyard of Vermont's Pico Peak at a ski resort owned by her parents. By age three, she was skiing. Racing came naturally to Lawrence, who flew down the slopes. Although she had no formal coaching, she seemed to know intuitively what racing required. By age eight, she was winning local contests. Lawrence has always credited her mother for encouraging her to continue skiing after her father died when she was ten.
At 11, Andy finished second in the Women's Easter Slalom championships. She qualified for the U.S. Olympic team at age 14. In 1948, she was the youngest member of the U.S. Women's Alpine Olympic team in the St. Moritz, Switzerland, Winter Games (where America's Gretchen Fraser took the gold in the slalom and Switzerland's Antoinette Meyer the silver). Inexperience cost Lawrence the bronze by just one-tenth of a second; she was shutout by Austria's Erika Mahringer .
In 1949, Lawrence won all the events held at the Federation International de Ski tryouts in Whitefish, Montana. The following year was an off year for the young skier, but in 1951 she won ten out of 16 races. In 1952, conditions were less than ideal at the Oslo Olympics; Norwegian soldiers had to shovel snow onto the course before the giant slalom. Nonetheless, Lawrence won the event by nearly three seconds over Dagmar Rom of Austria. Although Lawrence fell in the women's slalom on the first run, she recovered to finish the run, and her second run was perfect. The combined time of both runs put her in first place for her second gold; Ossi Reichert of Germany took the silver. In 1951, Andy married fellow skier Dave Lawrence. Her third child was just four months old when she competed in the 1956 Olympics and finished one tenth of a second behind the bronze medalist.
Lawrence was awarded the White Stag Trophy in 1949, the Beck International Trophy in 1952, inducted into the National Ski Hall of Fame in 1958, and named to the International Women's Sports Hall of Fame in 1983. At the 1960 Winter Olympics held in Squaw Valley, California, Andrea Mead Lawrence was chosen to ski the Olympic flame into the stadium.
After retiring from competition, Lawrence moved with her family to Aspen, Colorado, and became active in the community. Following her divorce in 1967, she moved with her children to the Mammoth Lakes area of the Sierra. There, Lawrence continued her involvement with community issues. She joined the Mono Lake Committee, helped form the conservation group Friends of Mammoth, and battled high-rise construction. She was a Mono County Supervisor from 1982 to 1999. Intent on coordinating all the environmental groups in the region, she also formed the Sierra Nevada Alliance.
Condon, Robert J. Great Women Athletes of the 20th Century. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1991.
Woolum, Janet. Outstanding Women Athletes: Who They Are and How They Influenced Sports in America. Phoenix, AZ: Oryx Press, 1992.
Karin L. Haag , freelance writer, Athens, Georgia