Former Seeley Lake Montana Teen Skater Ranked No. 1 in the World
From the Lion's Club pond in Seeley Lake to the Missoula Figure Skating Club to a world stage.
This is a story of overcoming hardships from birth to achieve goals that many might think would seem unattainable. But that is not who Dacia Laconte is. It is also a story of love - love from family and love of sport, and an iron will that let her skate right into her newly-discovered wheelhouse.
Odell Isaac tells us that according to Dacia and her mom, at some point during her birth, she sustained a brain injury that continues to affect her coordination, information processing, and muscle control. Nobody could pinpoint what happened.
It took 13 years for Dacia's brain injury to be properly figured out. She has no noticeable disability, moving and speaking normally. She says most people don't know about her condition unless she tells them.
And they would not know while watching her on the ice.
inclusive skating, a program that offers recreational and competitive avenues for skaters with physical and intellectual disabilities.
But she does not qualify for the Special Olympics or Paralympics. If she wanted to compete, it had to be against able-bodied athletes.
But in the last few years, bridges have been built. In 2021, the U.S. launched its Adaptive Skating Program, "Skate United." Here skaters can develop at their own pace with qualified coaching.
This was Dacia's springboard to inclusive skating, developed in Europe 10 years ago. The format provides "recreational and competitive avenues for skaters with physical and intellectual disabilities" like Danica's. .
So how well has Danica embraced this new sport? Well, undoubtedly this story's headline gave that away. Spoiler alert aside, we congratulate Danica Laconte, the 2022 and 2023 Junior Ladies Inclusive World Champion, currently the world’s No. 1 ranked Junior Inclusive Lady! She looks forward to defending her title at the 2024 world championships to be held in the United Kingdom in April.
If you love inspiring sports stories with roots in Montana, this is one to explore further.
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Gallery Credit: Chris Wolfe