The sweet sound of success
A lack of hearing has never held Park City’s Carina Crosby back and now it is pushing her to the forefront of the community.
This year, the 16-year-old Park City High School student qualified for the 2007 Deaflympics, which will be hosted by Salt Lake City this February.
For Crosby, the experience should be more than memorable for her. She is the youngest athlete to qualify for the U.S. Deaflympics Ski Team and will be competing in her home state.
Crosby is no stranger to sports. She has always been athletic and plays varsity volleyball and basketball for the Miners. She has also been skiing ever since her family moved from Florida to Utah when she was two years old. When she learned that the Deaflympics were headed to her own hills, she decided to put all of her effort into making the team. Even though she had not participated in ski racing before this year and didn’t even own a racing suit or racing skis, she knew she had the talent and skill. Balancing carefully around volleyball and basketball practice, Crosby spent her spare time preparing for the Deaflympics qualifier.
Turns out that she was even more talented than she anticipated. At the qualifying giant slalom race in Telluride, Colo., Crosby finished second only to the 2003 Deaflympic gold medalist and was named to the team.
Once she had made the team, her challenges became even greater. Thanks to a United States Olympic Committee clause that inadvertently cut funding to the Deaflympics, Crosby was asked to raise $2,800 to pay for the fees associated with competing. She also had to quit playing basketball so she could begin training twice a day.
In order to raise the money, Crosby began a fundraising campaign starting with a humble yard sale and ending with a speech given to the Park City Rotary Club. In between, she sent out letters to the community explaining her quest and the money she would need to meet her goals. Her heartfelt letter and commitment to excel beyond her limitations touched the hearts of Park City and numerous sponsors responded, helping her to raise $7,000 — the most of any member of the Deaflympics ski team.
Her sponsors include, Jans, Cole Sport, Head Skis, Surefoot, USANA Health Sciences, Podium ski wax, Deer Valley, Park City Mountain Resort and the Park City and Sunrise Rotarians.
"I’ve had a lot of support," Crosby said.
"The whole town has really gotten behind her," said Crosby’s father, Osmond.
The Deaflympics are the second longest running international games after the Olympics. Forty-two countries compete and follow a four-year, winter and summer games format, similar to the Olympics. They began in 1924 and are fully sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Crosby says that she is sometimes asked why the deaf don’t compete in the Paralympics like the blind. She explains that because hearing does not actually alter ability and athletic performance, it must be in a separate category.
The biggest challenge with skiing and being hearing impaired is the training. Although Crosby has been training with the Park City Ski Team, a special provision set up for her by the Park City Rotary, fully communicating with a hearing coach can be difficult. While she is thankful for the rare opportunity to train with the area’s best coaches from the Park City Ski Team, she is also looking forward to the two weeks before the Deaflympics when the official coaches will share their unique training style with the deaf athletes.
Crosby has been deaf since she was about 12, but has always been hard of hearing. Her impairment appears to be genetic and is something she shares with her older sister, DJ, who has always been profoundly deaf. Both have cochlear implants which allow them to function in the hearing world.
At the Deaflympics, Crosby will not be allowed to use her implant and must rely on sign language to communicate and her talent to race. Crosby has not used on American Sign Language much throughout her life, so she has also been spending copious amounts of time working with her sister and on her own to become fully fluent before February.
Crosby says that she is looking forward to the exciting opportunity to be around a large deaf community. Before now, she has always played sports with hearing youth, so finally being a part of the majority is an experience she plans to relish. She has already shared time with Salt Lake Deaflympic snowboarder Jeff Polluck and is excited to spend time with the other athletes. The Salt Lake deaf community is also slated to attend the games in force as volunteers and hosts.
"It will be cool communicating with people with my same capabilities," Crosby said.
She is also excited to share the time with her family, teammates and friends, who have never seen her in such an arena.
"It’s exciting, because I grew up here and have been here my whole life, so to be here and compete in my hometown for the Deaflympics is pretty exciting," Crosby said.
Crosby says that her participation in sports over the years is helping her to prepare in these final weeks before the games. She says that she wants to train a lot more, but says that she already knows how to focus and not let nerves affect her athletic performance. Without her implant, she will not be able to rely on the sound of her skis to help guide her down the hill, but she says that each day she comes more reliant on feel and sight and actually welcomes the quiet focus no hearing will bring.
"I’m not used to it, but I’m not scared of it," Crosby said.
She is training for all types of alpine races, as she will not find out which races she will compete in until the Deaflympic coaches make their final decisions two days before the games.
The Deaflympics will be held Feb. 3-10, with ski races on Feb. 4-6 and Feb. 8-9. For more information, visit 2007.usdeafsports.org/alpine.htm or http://www.2007deaflympics.com.
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