We just wrapped up the 2019 edition of the Special Olympics here in Jackson, Wyoming with much fanfare and cheers still being heard across the valley. Tuesday evening, Jackson Hole High School welcomed athletes from four states at their Opening Ceremonies where the ceremonial torch was lit and teams began their journey to win heralded medals and stand atop the podium. With over 200 athletes, these events are the perfect opportunity for friendly competition among competitors but an even better way to spend time in the mountains and enjoy activities that transcend intellectual disabilities. It truly is a special time for those participating or involved and you can tell from the moment they step onto the ‘playing field’.
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Wednesday, JHMR held all alpine competition for skiing and snowboarding on Teewinot and Apres Vous lifts, giving competitors a chance to find the best place to match their ability level with other athletes. Events included Giant Slalom and Super G for competitors on the hill, pushing competitors to the edge of their comfort zone while still allowing them to enjoy themselves. Nordic events took place at neighboring Teton Pines and included nordic skiing and snowshoeing. The two groups of competitors were able to come together and enjoy a ‘victory dance’ on Wednesday evening at Snow King Resort, allowing those to get out on the dance floor and express themselves!
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Today, we awoke to a cold yet bluebird Thursday with great snow conditions eagerly awaiting competitors. As warm-up laps were taken, we caught up with athletes from South Dakota, Utah, all across Wyoming and Montana keen to take home gold. One competitor noted that he had his ‘game face on’ and there was ‘no laughing, no smiling’ until after the races. Giant Slalom and Super G races occurred at the NASTAR Course off Apres Vous, and the cheers could be heard across the hill. Kudos to those who came out and supported the races and to those race crew workers who worked the event. Each individual on the hill certainly broke their ‘game face’ and showed some emotion as they gave their all during competition. The cowbells rang from start to finish and as racing concluded, Olympians rallied at the Events Tent for awards and medal ceremonies. The podium was full of smiles and the cheers continued until the last heat was awarded their medals.
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Congratulations to all of the Special Olympians who made the trip to Jackson Hole! We look forward to seeing familiar faces next year and keep up the good work!
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