When she was 13 years old, Umstead was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa. It is a genetic eye condition where the retina progressively degenerates and eventually causes blindness. Umstead has no central vision and is losing her peripheral vision.
In 2001, at age 29 and nearly blind, her father introduced her to adaptive skiing. She fell in love with the sport right away. Skiing gave her a new passion for life and led her to her husband Rob whom she met while skiing in New Mexico.
Umstead’s vision impairment requires her to ski with a guide. Rob has taken on the job since the summer of 2008.
As her guide, Rob skis a few feet in front of Danelle and acts as here “eyes” on the course. Eventually, the husband and wife duo founded the Paralympic ski racing team Vision4Gold.
Together, Danelle and Rob, have won 3 Paralympic bronze medals, four World Championship medals and more than 50 Alpine Skiing World Cup Medals.
In 2010, the pair made history at the Vancouver Winter Paralympic Games as the first husband and wife visually impaired ski race team to compete and medal for Team USA.
Umstead is the first ever visually impaired contestant to take part in the show. She is partnered with professional dancer Artem Chigvinstev.