Sunday, January 29, 2012

Rebecca Dussault - Winter Olympian

...and eight time national XC ski champion.
The winter X-games are upon us, and although they are not a direct translation of the games in the Winter Olympics, they still bring to mind memories of Vancouver and Turino. Among those memories are the particular athletes who inspired us, and in that vein I’d like to introduce this week’s cool cat: Rebecca Dussault, Olympian and mother.

Her journey to the Winter Games in Turino began when she first started racing in cross-country skis at age 15. Over the next five years she was among the elite, but to her dismay, she was not in good company. Many competitions were on Sundays, so on Saturday evening she alone would be hunting for a church and even fasting to receive communion. When her pre-race Eucharistic habit wasn’t being met with incredulity, Dussault still clashed with her 40 teammates where her beliefs were concerned.

The seed to witness was planted, but it would not sprout immediately. At age 19, Dussault married and wanted to retire from racing to make sure her priorities were straight. She was blessed with a son and a devoted husband, but she came to realize that God had blessed her to be a darn good skier as well. When she made her return after a three year break, she wasn’t the only one on the road to Turino; her son and husband were her indispensable entourage, and they would accompany her to the Italian Alps.

In Turino, Dussault became something of a media-buzz; interesting, since she didn’t even come close to medaling, though she was the top American finisher. Rather, it all had to do with what was written on her skis: Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. Pier Giorgio was a local of Turino, an athlete, and a faithful who died young contracting polio in his service to the poor. Dussault had adopted him as her patron saint before making it to Turino, and now the whole world was hearing about him.

Dussault is a member of Catholic Athletes for Christ, and she continues to witness in a way that only an athlete can: "There are so many parallels between sports and the spiritual life. When I am enduring physical pain, I can do just one more pull-up for one more soul. We need to recognize that a love of sports can help the mind search for truth."1

(from Varsity Catholic on Vimeo)

But of course, athletics aren't everything, and her motherhood is not to be diminished. "I have a 4-year-old son. I already have my gold medal." 1

More on Rebecca Dussault:
1 Catholic Herald, "Olympian Rebecca Dussault Shares Faith at Chantilly Church"

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