Reprinted from Celebrity Baby Scoop
Alpine skiers and Paralympians Rob and Danelle Umstead are gearing up for the Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. The first competitions of the Sochi Winter Games on NBC starts Feb. 6, and runs through Feb. 23. The Paralympics are two weeks later in Sochi, running from March 7 to 16.
The husband-wife duo opened up to Celebrity Baby Scoop about preparing for the Paralympics. Legally blind, Danelle skis to the sound of her husband’s guiding voice. The couple discusses their trust — on and off the course — stating that “none of the competition has the bond that we have," and how they teach their 6-year-old son, Brocton, that “people with disabilities can do amazing things.”
Tell us about your rigorous training schedule that has prepared you both for the upcoming Olympic Games.
In the past year, we have trained in Utah, Colorado and Oregon and raced in Italy, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States. It’s a lot of travel, but it allows us to train in different snow conditions and environments.
When at home (we live and train in Colorado and Utah), we spend approximately 12 hours a week in the gym and another 10 hours working out outdoors on a bike or doing other dry-land activities. We have been working hard to be as fit as possible when we get to the Paralympics.
Together, you both are team Vision4Gold. How did you two meet each other? How do you help each other during training and competitions?
We actually met at Après Ski in Taos, N.M. We were both living there and met one afternoon by chance while hanging out with friends. Little did we know it would all lead to a career as a ski racing team.
Being a married couple and racing together helps us most when the going gets tough. When it comes to trusting your guide to get you safely through a difficult race course, none of the competition has the bond that we have. Our communication and trust helps us in sport and in our daily lives. We feel blessed to have such a strong, loving, happy relationship.
What else do you two like doing together in your free time?
We love to spend time with our son. We go camping and paddle surfing, and Rob loves to kite board.
What is your best tip for maintaining a healthy marriage amid training and everything else you have going on?
Having common goals and working together to achieve them makes for a great relationship. Communication is key both on the slopes and off. The goals need to be discussed so that both of us are on the same page. Once that is clear, then working together to get there is easier.
Could you tell us about your son, Brocton? How old is he and what does he like to do for fun?
Our son is 6 now. He is in kindergarten and loves it. He enjoys building Legos, skiing, baseball and soccer. He makes us laugh every day and is such an incredible boy. He makes life easy.
How do you both manage your busy ski careers and raising a son?
That is one of the most difficult pieces of the puzzle for us. We need to be on the road quite a bit, and he needs to be in school now. We have great support from our families. The grandparents, aunts and uncles all have pitched in to help us take care of his needs.
This season, we have hired our long-time babysitter (five years) and friend Morgan to nanny at our house for the winter. This allows us to travel, race and train while knowing that he is happy, well cared for and able to stay in school. Peace of mind.
Will your son be cheering you both on in Sochi this winter? If so, what does it mean for you to have him there?
Brocton will not be traveling to Sochi this winter. We decided that it is not the best place for him to be while we are focused on racing. Racing in five events, we would not have much time to see him anyway, and knowing he is safe at home will be one less distraction for us as we prepare to compete.
This Paralympic Winter Games, he will have the opportunity to watch the games thanks to NBC. We know he and Morgan will be watching and cheering us on from home.
What values do you hope to pass on to your son?
Never give up, [and] work hard for what you want — no matter what life throws at you. Believe in yourself.
Hard work leads to success, people with disabilities can do amazing things, and do what you love. He is already cued into all these things.
Are you planning to train and compete in the following Winter Paralympics as well?
We’re focused on Sochi right now.
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