Sports

Special Olympics hosts race at Woodward with athletes from the NAC

PARK CITY, Utah — On Friday 45 athletes competed in a ski and snowboard giant slalom race organized by Special Olympics Utah (SOUT) held at Woodward, and included participants affiliated with the National Ability Center (NAC).

The crowd sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to the youngest racer who turned eight years old. The oldest racer there was 42.

Muggins Haerter, a perennial Park City parent at events like this one, told TownLift that this day was five years in the making, after the ten years of its absence.

Some of the athletes and NAC employees. Photo: Muggins Haerter

Gar Trayner, Woodward general manager, Salt Lake 2002 Slalom Olympian representing Great Britain, and former sport education director for U.S. Ski and Snowboard, put all the medals around the podium athletes necks.

Scott Weaver is the president and CEO of Special Olympics Utah. After he announced the podium ceremonies, he told TownLift, “We’re happy to have our athletes back in the snow to ski and ride and somedays as importantly, to gather.  Woodward has been a great host, very accommodating. More and more we want people to know the Special Olympics as a sports people of all abilities. Through our unified sports, we had a few teams here where an athlete is paired up other non disabled ski partner. So, we’re really here for everyone, and we just love it when people join in, and ski, and ride, and have fun with us.” 

(L-R) Coach Nat, Muggins Haerter, SOUT Manager Yolanda Kunder, Scott Weaver. Photo: Michele Roepke // TownLift

For Weaver it was easy to approach Woodward for opportunities like this race and the Tuesday night training sessions all season. That’s because when he was with Special Olympics Colorado, they teamed up with Copper Mountain and both those ski areas share the same ownership group, POWDR. Weaver thinks this venue is a win win with its affordability, perfect terrain,  and convenient location, not too mention free parking.

Two of the competitors in the photo below had to ask for the day off to be here as Eva Jennings works at Deer Valley and C.J. Hearter works at Lucky One’s Coffee Shop. They were the prom king and queen at Park City High School two years ago.

Just a few of the Park City Mountaineers. Photo: Michele Roepke // TownLift

Of the 45 athletes, 12 were from the Park City Mountaineers Team, and ten of those were affiliated with the NAC. The other new team is the Heber Howlers. Weaver added, “Those two brand new teams are looking for athletes, they’re looking for volunteers, and they’re looking for support. If somebody from Park City wants to donate to the Park City team, 100% of the proceeds stay with that team.” 

(L-R) Dad, Chris, athlete CJ, and Mom, Muggins Haerter. Photo: Michele Roepke // TownLift

Skiers and snowboarders even came from the Salt Lake Valley as well, including one who recently relocated from California after Special Olympics entity in his region shut down.

Journalists often compartmentalize facts into people, places and paragraphs. Whereas Mountaineers ‘Coach Nat’, USA Speed Skating’s three-time Olympian Nathaniel Mills, told TownLift, “I just see them all as kids and adults deserving of these amazing experiences.” He, alongside Haerter is a co-founder of the Club which does a half dozen different year-round sports.

Switchback Sports is a sponsor of the Mountaineers, putting patches on their new, blue, team parkas. 

RACE RESULTS:

Event:  Novice Alpine Ski Giant Slalom

Result

Racer

Gold

Elize Moore

Silver

Casey McLaughlin

  

Event:  Intermediate Snowboard

Result

Racer

Participant

Johnny Goldspring

  

Event:  Intermediate Snowboard – Unified Team

Result

Racer

Gold 

Daniel Austin

Gold

Chase Austin

  

Event:  Intermediate Alpine Ski  – Unified Team

Result

Racer

Gold

Ava Jennings

Gold

Thomas Summers

  

Event:  Intermediate Alpine Ski

Result

Racer

Gold

Phoenix Patrick

Silver

Aaron Rodriquez

  

Gold

Sebastien Wucher

Silver

Graham Pitts

Bronze

Taylor Adams

  

Gold

CJ Haerter

Silver

Morgan Warner

Bronze

Taylor Meckoll

Participant

Alex Kostuchenko

  

Gold

Jacob Price

Silver

Nick Yallech

  

Gold

Tyler Crawford

Silver

Lane Cudmore

Following the fun on the hill, everyone was invited to enjoy a well-earned pizza party at the National Ability Center. 

General donations to Special Olympics Utah may be made here.And inquiries as to donate specifically to the Park City or Heber teams may also be submitted in that website.

All photos by Michele Roepke // TownLift

 

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