April 2, 2009

Andrea Lawrence, Olympic gold skier, dies

Andrea Mead Lawrence, winner of two gold medals at the 1952 Winter Olympics, died this week at her home in California.

Her daughter, Quentin Lawrence, told The New York Times that Lawrence, 76, suffered from metastatic cancer. She died Tuesday in Mammoth Lakes, Calif.

Lawrence skied in her first Olympics in 1948 when she was 15. She won no medals in Moritz, Switzerland, but her youth made her a national figure.

Four years later, after appearing on the cover of Time magazine and marrying David Lawrence, a giant slalom champion, Lawrence became the first U.S. skier to win two gold medals. In a sport still dominated by Europeans, the United States would not win another gold for 20 years.

Lawrence was born in Rutland, Vt., where her parents owned a ski resort. She learned how to ski by imitating the Swiss professional when she was 6.

In later life, Lawrence held local office in Aspen, Colo., and Mono County in California. She was involved in preservation of the Sierra Nevada and founded the Andrea Lawrence Institute for Mountains and Rivers in 2003.

She and her husband divorced in 1967. She is survived by her two sons and three daughters.