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Daring Defiance

a guy with ski goggles in the mountains

Professional skier finds freedom on the slopes

by Maria Comp (’23)

Professional freestyle skier Robin “Bino” Gillon (’23) wasn’t always an advocate for the deaf community, though he was born severely deaf—averaging an 80-percent hearing loss. Hearing aids have always been a critical part of Bino’s daily life but, after being bullied and excluded by his childhood peers for wearing them, he became very self-conscious about them. In an attempt to mask the fact that he was wearing them, Bino opted for skin-colored hearing aids and grew his hair out to cover them.

But the hearing aids did not stop Bino from pursuing his dreams on the slopes—and dismantling stigmas along the way.

“Pretty much my whole life I’ve had to fight the stigma of being a severely deaf kid,” Bino says. “I always love to prove people wrong.”

Born and raised in Switzerland, Bino was drawn to Westminster for the small class sizes—and, of course, the snow.

“I was really surprised, in a good way, that Westminster has a lot to offer people who have certain challenges,” Bino says, adding that the director of disability services always made sure that he had the right accommodations. “It's been a relatively smooth ride thanks to my teachers and staff at Westminster. They were always willing to work with me.”

While he was pursuing degrees in finance and management, Bino was also mastering his skills in freestyle skiing. His determination to dismantle stigmas attracted the attention of a Swiss production company, which approached him in 2018 about making a documentary. The company wanted to shine light on Bino’s journey as a professional deaf freestyle skier. Although Bino was initially uncomfortable with the idea of going public about his hearing loss, the documentary became a defining milestone in his personal life.

“It took that journey and the process of filming a documentary to fully embrace and accept who I was,” Bino says. “Since then, I live much happier.”

Following the release of the documentary, Bino became active in spreading awareness about deafness, with the goal of demonstrating the many things that deaf people can accomplish.

“I can overcome anything with just a little bit of small adjustments here and there,” he says. “Yes, I might have a small accent in the languages I speak, but I can still speak, right? I can still participate in all kinds of activities. I mean, I just finished college."   

Along the way, Bino continues to push the limits on his skis, earning him numerous accolades. He currently has twelve World Cup starts, two World Championship starts, and one Junior World Championship start under his belt in both slopestyle and big air skiing.

And he’s not done yet.

Bino’s second film project, titled What it’s Like, premiered in February 2023—and a third film project is on the way.

“Skiing really does mean the world to me,” Bino says. “It's literally given me all the opportunities that I have today.”



About the Westminster Review

The Westminster Review is Westminster University’s bi-annual alumni magazine that is distributed to alumni and community members. Each issue aims to keep alumni updated on campus current events and highlights the accomplishments of current students, professors, and Westminster alum.