Intrepid gymnast and Raynaud’s sufferer Kristle Lowell continues to scale new heights, so to speak. The fearless Frostie snatched up a Bronze Medal in the women’s double mini-trampoline World Trampoline and Tumbling Championships held on November 14, 2018 in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Securing the medal at the prestigious competition makes Kristle the highest ranking American woman in trampoline and tumbling (T&T).
A resident of suburban Chicago, the 26-year-old gymnast has secondary Raynaud’s, a component of her affliction with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a connective tissue disorder. She is one of the Raynaud’s Association’s most active ambassadors, spreading awareness of her condition wherever she goes.
This time her journey began in Baku, Azerbaijan, where she was selected to compete in the world championships. Two of the four American women who competed in the preliminary trials were selected for the finals in Russia. Sweden’s Lina Sjoeberg won the title, with Spain’s Melania Rodriguez coming in second place.
Training and competing in cold gyms is always a challenge for Kristle. But this competition turned out to be especially difficult. “When we arrived in Baku it was warm,” she recalls. “People were complaining that the air conditioner wasn’t working. I was jumping for joy thinking I found a country for me!” she laughs.
But Russia was quite frigid. “We went walking to see some churches,’ Kristle says, ‘and I thought I could handle it because I had my Canada Goose Antarctica jacket on. I bought one of those cool Russian hats in a gift shop but it didn’t cover the bottoms of my ears.”
The pain seemed like “normal Raynaud’s pain” until she realized she had frostbite. “I started to panic, knowing that if I stayed out even five minutes longer, my championship dreams would be over.”
SafeSport Policy, adapted by USA Gymnastics leadership, prohibits athletes and their coaches to be alone together. “My coach, Chris Walker, also has Raynaud’s, and he understood that I needed to get back to the hotel quickly — but we knew he couldn’t take me. A wonderful teammate, Ruben Padilla, volunteered to take an Uber ride back with me — probably saving my competition,” she says. “He was named Sportsman of the Year last year, an honor he really deserves.”
Kristle also credits the United States American Gymnastics medical staff for treating her frostbite so she could continue. “They were amazing, and so kind and understanding,” she says.
Despite the hardships her sport brings — where leotards and bare feet are the uniform — Kristle is ready for the next challenge. “Next year, the world championships will be in Japan. I’m really hoping to make the team for that,” she says.
For related articles on Kristle’s success despite her battle with Raynaud’s, see the following posts: