Amy Purdy, the double amputee Paralympic snowboarder, wowed the judges with her routine this week on "Dancing With the Stars," earning a score that shot her to the top of the leaderboard.
Purdy has become a fan favorite ever since her story of adversity debuted last week on season 18 of ABC's competitive dancing reality show.
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"['DWTS' is] a great opportunity to show people not so much what I personally can do, but rather to show them that the only true disability is in our minds," Purdy told ABC News last week before the premiere
. "If we can see past preconceived limitations then the possibilities are endless."
Purdy, 34, lost both her legs below the knee at age 19 after contracting a deadly form of bacterial meningitis. She began snowboarding about seven months later after getting leg prosthetics and eventually made the Sochi Paralympic team.
Because of the timing of the Paralympics and "DWTS," Purdy was forced to pull double duty while in Russia last month.
"I started my day off by snowboarding for four hours. Then I'd do a little physical therapy on my legs," she told the Los Angeles Times
. "I'd then take three gondolas down from the Athlete's Village to meet [pro partner] Derek [Hough] and we would run back to his hotel to dance for 3-4 hours and I would do it again then next day for about four days in a row. That's was it . . . that's all the training I got, really squeezing in time any place we could. It was crazy, but lots of fun too."
But all her practice paid off — she took the bronze medal in snowboardcross and managed to score a 24 with her cha-cha-cha in last week's premiere.
She followed that dance up with an equally successful swing routine this week, and her score of 24 put her in the top five on the "DWTS" leaderboard.
Purdy said she applied the same adaptation skills she learned with snowboarding to dancing.
"Once I lost my legs and I lost my ankle movement, I had to figure out different ways to [snowboard]," she told the Times. "I found that it's more about using the rest of my body. And with dancing it's kind of similar. We're figuring out what can we do to accomplish that same movement. It's just being creative with the situation."
As for everyone who's calling her an inspiration, Purdy said that was never her intention in doing the show.
"My motivation is not to try to inspire, but rather to do things that inspire me and hopefully that will spread to others," she said. "I'm not trying to be an inspiration, but I'm flattered to be considered one."
Marathon swimmer Diana Nyad and NHL star Sean Avery were cut in a surprise double elimination Monday night on "DWTS," while Olympic ice dancing champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White, and Big Time Rush frontman James Maslow all tied for first place with a score of 25 each.
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