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Birgit Skarstein

Climbing through adversity

“People tell me it wasn’t supposed to turn out this way. But who said that? Who could promise that it wasn’t supposed to be this way?”

Here is a tall, athletic young woman with long powerful legs who is always happy to try different sports like kickboxing, climbing, swimming, surfing, skiing, horse riding and lacrosse. On a mountain climb, she is the person who cheerfully volunteers to carry the extra backpack.

Here is a long-armed young woman keen to do many different sports to find out what is possible and what works best – like arm biking, sit skiing, swimming, sitting tennis, strength training, horse riding, climbing, canoeing and poling (using ski poles with a wheelchair, on road).

Here is a carefree 19-year-old woman who jumps into the ocean from a jetty but hits the bottom hard and breaks her ankle. During the sixteenth operation to repair damage done by the jump, an incorrectly administered epidural anaesthetic leaves her paralysed from the naval down. Newly paralysed, she is one of only six people in Norway to contract swine flu during an outbreak.

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About Row360

Welcome to Row360, the world’s only global, independent rowing magazine. Row360 brings you features from around the world, profiling the best athletes, coaches, and others from the whole rowing community – Olympic, adaptive, college, club, ocean, and more.