Jean Saubert: Mormon Athlete
Jean Marlene Saubert was an alpine ski racer. Her rise to the top of her sport was rocky at first; she came in third out of three racers in most of her early competitions. By the age of fourteen, she won the junior nationals and by twenty-one, she was the US team’s top woman slalom skier and favored to medal. At the 1964 Winter Olympic Games at Innsbruck, Austria, she placed sixth in the opening round, but was able to improve in the second and third rounds and took the bronze medal in the women’s slalom. She took silver in the women’s giant slalom.
Saubert was born on May 1, 1942, in Roseburg, Oregon, and grew up in Cascadia. She joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after meeting Marvin Melville who was the assistant coach for the US women’s ski team. She moved to Salt Lake City after the Olympics to train with him at the University of Utah and she lived with Melville’s parents where she took missionary lessons and was baptized by Melville. Later she was a member of the Young Women’s MIA athletic board.
She placed fourth in the slalom at the 1966 World Championships in Portillo, Chile, and retired after that competition.
Saubert returned to her native Oregon and earned her bachelor’s degree from Oregon State University. She then earned a master’s degree from Brigham Young University. She stayed in Utah for a time where she taught physical education training and worked as a ski instructor. Back in Oregon, she taught elementary school.
She was inducted into the National Ski Hall of Fame in 1976 and the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame in 1983. She was a torchbearer for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
She passed away on May 14, 2007, after battling breast cancer.