Para alpine skier Melissa Perrine is a two-time Paralympic bronze medallist and four-time world champion.
Born in Nowra on the NSW south coast, Melissa started skiing when she was 12. In 2009 She made her Australian representative debut at the IPC North America Cup, where she claimed silver in the Super G with guide Andrew Bor.
Melissa was named on the Australian team for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Paralympics. Seven weeks out from the Games, she crashed and broke her hip at the 2010 World Cup event in Italy, putting her Paralympic debut in jeopardy. Miraculously, she recovered in time to compete in Canada where she placed fifth in the women’s downhill, seventh in the Super-G and eighth in the Slalom events.
The following year Melissa made history by becoming the first Australian female ever to win an IPC World Championship medal in Alpine skiing, after claiming silver in the women’s downhill in Sestriere, Italy. The NSWIS scholarship holder, again with Andrew as her guide, also bagged two bronze medals in the women’s Super-G and Super-Combined.
At the Sochi 2014 Winter Games, Melissa was one of Australia’s top medal hopes competing in five events. However, the Paralympian struck a run of bad luck at the Games. After narrowly missing out on a spot on the podium with a fourth-place finish in the Downhill on day one, Melissa was in a medal-winning position in the Super-G but unfortunately lost control and recorded a Did Not Finish. She was disqualified in the Super-Combined for wearing a visor attached to her race helmet and a loose ski in the Giant Slalom event was the end of a frustrating Games campaign.
Putting the disappointment of Sochi behind her, Melissa dominated at the 2015 IPC Alpine Ski World Championships achieving what no other Australian female in her sport has achieved before – a podium finish in all five events. The alpine skier took gold in the Downhill, Super-G, and Super Combined, along with silver in the Slalom and bronze in the Giant Slalom.
With her coach Christian Geiger as her guide, Melissa won her first Paralympic medal at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Paralympics – bronze in the Super Combined Visually Impaired. The next day she claimed a second bronze medal in the Giant Slalom and went on to record top-five finishes in the Women’s Slalom, Downhill, and Super-G events. Melissa was given the honour of flag bearer at the closing ceremony.
Partnering with guide Bobbi Kelly to deliver a stand-out international season, Melissa claimed a total of 12 world cup medals in 2018/19 and was crowned world champion again in the Super-Combined event along with earning two silvers and a bronze at the 2019 Para Alpine World Championships.
At the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games, Melissa competed at the last of her four Paralympic Games alongside sighted guide Bobbi Kelly. Together they achieved a brilliant sixth-place finish in the women’s giant slalom vision impaired.
Melissa now heads into skiing retirement as one of the greats of Australian Winter Paralympic Sport.
Image credit L. Percival