DETERMINED TO RISE…TO THE DEAFLYMPICS – FACT 40 of 50
Kelley Duran ‘00
Kelley Duran, a 2000 graduate of GMVS, was born deaf but that never stopped her from pursuing her goals and dreams. One of those was ski racing, and GMVS provided that opportunity for Duran during her high school years. A resident of Fayston, VT, Duran competed in Alpine Skiing and played soccer, regularly working to read lips or teach coaches the basics of sign language in order to receive valuable feedback on and off the hill. Duran also had the help of an interpreter, Stephanie Cramer, who assisted on the hill during training.
Duran went on to Smith College where, in 2019, she was inducted in the Smith College Athletics Hall of Fame. She was a three-time USCSA All-American, competing at the National Championships in 2001, 2002 and 2004. While she qualified for nationals in 2003, she chose instead to compete at the Deaflympics in Sweden, an honor of a lifetime. Duran went on to compete again in the Salt Lake City Deaflympics in 2007, winning five medals over the course of two Deaflympic appearances.
After her 2004 graduation from Smith College, Duran earned a Master of Arts in Linguistics from Gallaudet University and a Master of Science in Software Engineering from Rochester Institute of Technology where she was awarded the Outstanding Graduate Award for students earning a master’s degree.
Duran is currently working as a software consultant starting her own business. She previously worked at Xerox, Convo Communications, and Mux.
Austin Nelson ‘03
Born with damaged cochleae, Nelson has 65% hearing loss in his left ear and 85% loss in his right. With the help of hearing aids and speech therapy that he underwent from ages 4 to 12, Nelson learned to adapt to challenges faced by the hard of hearing. He learned to read lips to decipher what people were saying and thankfully technology evolved rapidly, enabling him to hear sounds he had never heard before, like his own voice.
Growing up in Connecticut, and learning to ski on the weekends at Mohawk and Killington, Nelson soon chose to take his talents to GMVS where he began ski racing. As a junior, he heard about the Deaflympics and made it a goal to one day earn a spot on the US Deaflympic team.
The Deaflympics began in 1924 with about 1,000 athletes from all over the world and now draw more than 2,500 athletes from 30 countries. Deaflympic competitors are not permitted to wear hearing aids with countdowns and timing cues being visual.
At the age of 17, Nelson competed in the qualifiers of the U.S. Deaf Ski & Snowboard Association and earned a spot on the U.S. Deaflympic team as a result of winning the slalom. Training at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, Nelson went on to compete at the Deaflympics in Sweden in 2003. While he fell in the first run of the slalom, he went on to win the second run, despite starting at the back of the pack. He also placed 6th in the downhill and four years later returned to the Deaflympics stage in Salt Lake City, tying for third in SG.
Nelson graduated from the University of Denver in 2008 with a degree in international business and promptly moved to Aspen where he skis over 100 days every year. Nelson now manages Surefoot Aspen, with his wife Tara, daughter Brinkley, and two French bulldogs. He is hoping to make a comeback and compete at this winter’s Deaflympics in Turkey!