Local athlete Lauren Weibert wins gold at the 2019 Deaflympics
BRECKENRIDGE — Lauren Weibert, a 31-year-old Breckenridge resident, has a passion for snowboarding and bringing awareness to the athletes that compete in the Deaflympics. Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Weibert snowboarded for the first time when she was 13 at Heavenly Ski Resort in Lake Tahoe, California. She moved to Summit County when she was 20 and has been pursuing the sport ever since.
As a deaf athlete, Weibert went to her first Deaflympics as a competitor in 2015 in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. She won gold for slopestyle snowboarding and silver for snowboard cross. Four years later, she wanted to go back to the Deaflympics to defend her title. In order to attend the 2019 Deaflympics in Valtellina and Valchiavenna, Italy, she had to raise about $3,200.
“I had to fundraise my way there and I couldn’t have gotten there without all of my supporters,” Weibert said.
Weibert said the community of Summit County helped her fundraise in a number of ways and that HighSide Brewing let her host a community fundraiser. Weibert is also sponsored by several snowboarding brands including CAPiTA snowboarding, Union Bindings, 686 Outerwear, Coal Headwear, Crab Grab and Gravitee Boardshop.
The athlete was able to raise the money and headed to Italy for the games that occurred Dec. 12–21, where she successfully defended her slopestyle gold.
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“It was raining, but it was a lot of fun. I really liked the course and I’m really happy with how I rode,” Weibert said.
While being a deaf athlete comes with struggles — the biggest being communication, according to Weibert — Weibert said that when the crowds cheer during her event, she doesn’t get distracted.
“It’s really easy for me to just block everything out. I just see them waving,” Weibert said.
Weibert doesn’t have a coach, so to train, she said she just snowboarded as much as possible at Copper Mountain Resort. She noted that training for the games was challenging because of how early in the season the Deaflympics were this year.
Weibert said she has competed in local competitions before, but she doesn’t do them anymore because they are too stressful for her as a deaf athlete when the events are run via loudspeakers. However, she plans to go to the Deaflympics in 2023. In the meantime, she plans to continue snowboarding simply for fun.
“It’s my favorite thing in the world. It’s why I live here,” Weibert said about her love of snowboarding.
Aside from snowboarding, one of Weibert’s biggest passions is to spread awareness about the deaf athlete community. She said Deaflympians don’t get the same amount of support as, say, Paralympians, although the Deaflympics is also an International Olympic Committee-sanctioned event.
“I’m a part of the U.S. Deaf Ski and Snowboard Association and we’re trying to set up a Summit County training weekend together,” Weibert said. “We don’t get any training, we don’t have coaches, we are self taught.”
Weibert pointed out that Paralympians now get the same payout as Olympians, while Deaflympians do not get paid.
“People don’t understand that the Deaflympics is recognized by the IOC so it is an Olympic event, so I don’t know why we are left in the shadows,” Weibert said.
One thing that Weibert said she appreciates about the Deaflympics compared to other Olympic competitions is that she trains with, and is friends with, her competitors.
“I have friends from all over the world and we’re not fierce competitors. We’re always hugging each other,” Weibert said.
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