Among the skilled athletes who worked hard and accomplished their dream of competing in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, was a young woman with ties to Perry, Maine. Faye Gulini of Colorado, who finished fourth in the Ladies' Snowboard Cross final on February 16, is the niece of Ann Skriletz, who has been following her athletic accomplishments since Gulini began competing in 2007.
"We're all very proud of her. It's not a fluke that she's there," stresses Skriletz. "She's put in a lot of work."
Six riders compete in each heat of snowboard cross, and the sport has been described as a NASCAR race on snow.
Faye, 21, is the daughter of Ann's older sister, Patricia (Frieh) Gulini, who died in a motor vehicle accident 16 years ago, and Faye's father designs trams at ski resorts, so the Gulinis have lived in many places where there was plenty of opportunity for skating, skiing and snowboarding.
"Faye's been competing since she was a little thing, and this is actually her second Olympics," points out Skriletz. "It's been very exciting to follow her."
Gulini began snowboarding in Snowbird, Utah, when she was 9 years old and entered her first snowboard cross event at age 10 in Jackson Hole, Wyo. She moved to Vail, Colo., to pursue her passion and has twice finished eighth in World Cup competition.
"I'm happy with the way today went," said Gulini of her final race in the Sochi Olympics, in a statement posted on the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association website. "I had a tough season leading up to the Olympics. On this course it kind of seems just staying on your feet was important, and I was able to do that pretty consistently. I'm happy with fourth. It is the Olympics, but being on the podium would have been nice."
"This was the toughest course we've been on all season," she adds. "This is a great course, but it's intimidating. We don't usually have courses that have jumps this big. It's so much fun. But it'll get in your head. I don't think that it's that the girls don't have the capability of hitting those huge jumps, but it'll get in your head. I think that's what it was for a lot of people."
"She's just a great kid," sums up her aunt.