Paralympic Q&A: Luba Lowery
Luba Lowery lived in a Russian orphanage until the age four when her American mother adopted her. At the time of her adoption her mother, Marcia, was not aware that Luba suffered from Proximal Focal Femoral Disorder (PFFD) and was missing her hip sockets.
Nothing would hold her back and she went on to compete at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games. In addition to her athletic accomplishments, she actively participates in giving back to the community - all while attending Denver University, where she will be graduating in June with a major in Russian language.
Teamusa.org recently had the chance to ask her a few questions about her Paralympic experience and plans for the future. Here is what she had to say.
1) How old were you when you first started skiing? How old were you when you first started skiing competitively?
I began ski racing when I was five. My family is very much into skiing, so I started at a young age. I grew up with a program and then at the age of 11 I joined the race program and have been racing since.
2) How do you prepare for your events? Both physically and mentally.
Physically I go to the gym every day. I also eat really healthy as well. Mentally, I try to have a positive mindset regarding what the event is, what the weather is and what not. I definitely try to have a positive mindset every time I go on the hill or in the gym. It's having a positive mindset and attitude that really help.
3) Do you have a favorite pre-game meal?
Usually it's oatmeal. That and coffee. I can't live without coffee. Just like everyone else.
4) What was it like to participate in the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games?
It was an incredible experience. It hit me that I was a Paralympian as I was walking into the Opening Ceremony. It's an incredible feeling to have a dream since you were a kid and to work through challenges and just make it. Also having my teammates there was amazing. Everyone in Vancouver was really nice; all of the volunteers were really helpful and the race crew was great. It was also amazing to meet other athletes from all over the world.
5) How did it feel competing against Russia-your country of origin/birth?
For Alpine Skiing there were only a few Russian women and they were all in a different category, so I wasn't really competing against the Russians I did try to talk to a few of them. They said, ‘Since you're a dual citizen you should come try out for our Nordic team.' I just said, ‘No. Nordic is too hard.'
My first four years in an orphanage I don't really remember a lot, but I do remember leaving the orphanage and how happy I was. I went back to the orphanage in 2008 during the fall and the building looked just like how I remembered. I don't have a lot of memories. My one good memory was leaving the orphanage.
6) If you could play any other Olympic sport (any hindrances not taken into account), which one would you choose, and why?
I've always wanted to do Luge or Skeleton. It just seems like an incredible sport and an adrenaline rush. That's probably why I do skiing because of the adrenaline rush. If I could do a summer sport, I would probably do swimming. I really like swimming. I was a swimmer growing up before competitive ski racing.
7) What are your plans after you graduate from college?
I'm trying to get an internship with a Colorado disability coalition for this summer and then after that start looking at graduate schools. That's what I'm planning for right now.
8) Have you ever considering being a coach in the future?
I grew up in a program that was based on volunteers, so if I went to go back and coach -which I would really like to do - there would probably be more volunteering that I could do. I grew up skiing because of the volunteers, so the least I could do is to support the new athletes. I'm definitely interested in coaching in a program down the road.
9) Do you think you will be competing in Sochi 2014?
I think so. People have been saying, ‘You were born in Russia, you should go back.' People usually don't just do one Paralympic Games. I'm thinking of taking next year off because financially I can't really pull it off. But I'm definitely planning on competing in Sochi in alpine skiing, not Nordic with the Russians.
10) Who inspires you? Both within the sport and in life in general?
Within sports, I'm inspired by Hannah Pennington. She was an athlete on the 2010 Paralympic team. I've been skiing with her for quite a few years now. She's always had a sense of humor and we've always pushed each other. I can always ask questions about what a race is like and she's just always there. She's a very good friend and a very good teammate.
For life in general, my mom inspires me. My mom is disabled as well. She was the first single parent from Maine to adopt a child with a disability. So having a parent with a disability made it interesting growing up. She was always there to support me. She's definitely someone I look up to.
11) You were born in Russia and raised in the USA after being adopted. What has your life overall (not just sports) been like?
I went off to Russia to study abroad and work in an orphanage. I like to do a lot of volunteer work. I really like to give back to the community.
12) If there was one thing you could tell people in America, what would you tell them and why did you choose that one thing to tell them?
Look at people with disabilities like any other person. There's always a stereotype that people with disabilities aren't as capable as other people. People should realize that we are just as capable as others who aren't disabled. Our disabilities don't slow us down. Paralympic Games are great because they show that. When you're a disabled athlete people think that you're not as capable as you are.