Losing her mom at 5 put snowboard racer on difficult path that led to 3 Olympics


Editor’s note: Deseret News reporter Amy Donaldson is in Pyeongchang, South Korea, covering the 2018 Winter Games. This is the 11th in a series of articles profiling Utahns competing in the Olympics.

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PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Faye Gulini didn’t have the luxury of easing into life.

“As a young child, you’re just floating through life and you kind of gradually mature,” said the Cottonwood Heights snowboarder who will compete in her third Olympics this week. “My experience was like, overnight I knew how painful life could be, and it scared me a lot.”

Gulini isn’t sure if she fell asleep or if her 5-year-old mind just wandered into some little girl fantasy.

“My first memory is that we were rolling,” she said of the single-car accident that claimed her mother’s life when she was five. “My dad and my brothers were in Flaming Gorge, floating the Green River. My older sister had a soccer game …so we stayed home, and we were driving to meet up with my dad and brothers. …I don’t know if she fell asleep or what, but it just looked like a tornado in front of me. I couldn’t tell what was going on. Things were breaking, and flying around and then we stopped. I believe we were upside down. I unbuckled my seatbelt and climbed out of my window.”

Little Faye walked around the mangled car to driver’s window.

“I started shaking her,” Faye said. “I wasn’t worried about death because I don’t think I understood what death was.”

She’s not sure how long she tried to rouse her mom, but eventually, she looked around and decided to go to the road for help.

She sat on the side of the road, cross-legged and bloody.

“I didn’t even know I was injured at that point,” Gulini said. “A semi-truck …read more

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