Olympian and cross-country skier Rebecca Dussault has placed her Olympic quest and hopes for a medal in the hands of her patron, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. Appropriately, Blessed Frassati was a Turin native and a lover of sport.
The day before her first race — the 15-km Cross-Country Pursuit — Dussault made a pilgrimage to the Cathedral of San Giovanni Battista, where Frassati’s remains are kept. She asked her patron to inspire her with the same spirit that inspired him to climb mountains and to help the impoverished, reported the Washington Post.
This wasn’t her first visit to her patron’s tomb. Last summer, she traveled to Turin with her family to visit the cathedral, tour the Frassati family home, and visit Frassati’s sister, Luciana, who is 103.
Frassati, a rich young man who dedicated his energies to the poor, died 80 years ago of polio, which he contracted from those he helped. He was 24. Frassati was buried in a Turin park, but when his body was moved to the cathedral in 1981, the casket was opened and his body was found to be incorrupt. He still needs two miracles to be made a saint, and Dussault hopes that her medal win could be his first miracle.
The native of Gunnison, Colo., a devout Catholic, is not a likely medal contender, which is why she believes her win could be considered a Frassati miracle. She lost her first race Feb. 12, placing 48th, but will compete in the 30-km freestyle race Feb. 24.
She has dedicated her 2006 Olympic journey to Frassati so wholeheartedly that when she was asked what inscription she would like engraved on her official Olympic ring, she said: "Bl. Frassati.”
The 25-year-old had abruptly quit the sport in her peak years, at 19, while she was America's fastest-rising cross-country skier, to marry her lifelong sweetheart and to have a child.
During the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, she decided to return to the sport. She found a team that accommodated her lifestyle, found a team director who shared her faith, and started to win races again.
Despite a severe and chronic sinus condition that only gets worse with vigorous exercise in the cold winter air, she made it to the 2006 Olympic team. She believes Frassati is part of the reason she is competing at the Turin Olympics. She discovered him during her comeback at a Frassati festival in Denver.
"He was a lover of life. He was in love with a girl. He climbed mountains. He was handsome, he came home without his jacket because he would give it to someone who was poor. He ran over the mountain to the seminary to pray, he wouldn't take public transportation so he could give the money to someone who needed it. He was amazing," Dussault told the Washington Post.