Cowgirl Kaitlyn stands out from the herd

Wed Feb 12, 2014 4:18pm EST
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By Philip O'Connor

ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Reuters) - The only thing more surprising than American Kaitlyn Farrington winning halfpipe gold at the Sochi Olympics on Wednesday is the story of how her early career was funded - by selling the family's livestock.

Snowboarders like Shaun White can command millions of dollars in endorsements, but the woman from Sunny Valley, Idaho had to make do with more modest means when she set out on the path to Olympic gold.

As her stature as a snowboarder grew, the only way for her family to fund her burgeoning career was to sell off the cattle on their ranch, one at a time.

"When I started competing in bigger events, my dad had to sell his cows just to get me to those bigger events across the country," the 24-year-old told a news conference.

"I think the cattle sales were Wednesday, so before I'd go to school, I'd help my dad load a cow up into the trailer, maybe two, and he'd take them to the cattle sale and auction them off.

"My parents have been backing me from day one, and I'm sure they do not miss those cows today."

A surprise winner ahead of Australia's defending champion Torah Bright and compatriot Kelly Clark, the 2002 gold medalist, Farrington told reporters that her background as a cowgirl helped her become an Olympic champion.

Farrington had to come through both rounds of qualifying before reaching the final, but that was by no means the first obstacle she had faced in her career.   Continued...

Gold medalist Kaitlyn Farrington (C) of the U.S. celebrates with her parents Gary and Suze Farrington after winning the women's snowboard halfpipe at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games in Rosa Khutor February 12, 2014. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson