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Michelle Roark  

American Freestyle Skier

Slowed by knee injuries throughout her career (she had six surgeries - three on each knee - prior to 2006), Roark made her long-awaited Olympic debut at the Torino Games at age 31, finishing 18th in women's moguls. That same season, Roark - one of the more diminutive moguls skiers in the world at just five feet tall - placed third in the World Cup moguls standings to equal the best result of her career. To date, Roark's best finish at a major championship was a silver medal at the 2003 World Championships in Deer Valley, Utah.

Growing up, Roark was a competitive figure skater until the sport became too expensive to pursue at age 15. During her figure skating career, Roark attended training camp with a young Nancy Kerrigan. After switching sports, Roark learned to ski wearing her brother's hand-me-down boots in Colorado, putting a rolled-up sock in her boots so that they would fit. She emerged as the junior national moguls champion in 1990.

Early on, Roark had significant struggles financing her skiing career. She competed on the World Cup circuit in 1994-95, but, as reported by The Denver Post, she didn't receive funding from the U.S. Ski Team. As a result, she finished the season in debt to the team, which had paid for her expenses. At that time, she bought a tent, which became her temporary home, and set it up on a road outside Winter Park, Colo. Roark started working as a waitress 11 hours a day, and when she would get off work at 10 p.m., she would bring leftover pastries from the restaurant and give them to security guards at the local gym to convince them to let her in so she could work out. She lived in the tent for six months until she had enough money to put a down payment on a house.

The holder of a degree in chemical engineering, petroleum refining and environmental science from the Colorado School of Mines, Roark says she has known she wanted to be a chemical engineer since age five. Currently, she puts that knowledge of compounds to work through her own natural perfume company, Phi-nomenal


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