Special Olympics hit Mt. Bachelor

Central Oregon athletes to compete in Special Oregon Winter Games

By Beau Eastes / The Bulletin / @beastes

2014 Special Olympics Oregon State Games/Snow Sports

IF YOU GO

When: Friday through Sunday

Where: Mt. Bachelor ski area

Who: Special Olympic Oregon chapters from across the state

Cost: Free for spectators

Web: www.soor.org

SCHEDULE

Friday: Practice day, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Saturday: Cross-country skiing and snowshoe competitions, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; alpine skiing and snowboarding, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Sunday: Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.; alpine skiing and snowboarding, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

No one has more fun on the mountain than these guys and gals.

Special Olympics Oregon (SOOR) hosts its 2014 Winter State Games — the snow sports version — this weekend at Mt. Bachelor ski area. From Friday through Sunday more than 200 competitors from across the state, including 25 athletes from SOOR’s High Desert chapter, will vie for medals in alpine and nordic skiing, snowboarding and snowshoe races.

“These guys learn very quick,” says Bend’s Sadie Knowles, a volunteer snowboard and ski coach with the High Desert chapter. “Some of them are better skiers than I am. They just take it slow and steady and they get down the mountain faster than I do.”

The Special Olympics athletes practice for a minimum of eight weeks in their specific events, many participating in dryland drills weeks before they being their snow workouts. For the last two months, the High Desert snow enthusiasts have been hitting the runs and trails at Mt. Bachelor every Sunday morning.

“Even the stubborn ones who don’t want to get on the bus in the morning, by the end of the day they’re super happy they came,” Knowles says.

“The ultimate goal is to provide sports training and competitive opportunities for individuals that couldn’t otherwise have those opportunities,” adds Janet Capetty, SOOR’s senior vice president of field services.

Capetty, a nordic skier herself, helps run the cross-country ski competitions during the Winter State Games.

“Someone asked me to volunteer years ago,” Capetty says, recalling her initial Special Olympics experience while she was still in college. “It just expanded from there. … I love (cross-country skiing) so much, I wanted my athletes to have a great time too.”

Participants, who have various skill levels, are placed in divisions based on gender, age and ability. Last year, Bend’s Misty Holloman not only competed in the Special Olympics Oregon Winter State Games, she also qualified for and raced in the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, where she earned a silver medal in alpine skiing’s super-G event.

“Ultimately, (Special Olympics) athletes can and will often compete in citizen races,” Capetty adds. “They’re prepared and get great training from our volunteer coaches who train and work with them.”

On Friday, athletes will have a full day to practice on the runs and trails of their specific events. Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing kick off the competition Saturday morning at 9 o’clock. Sunday’s action also gets underway at 9 a.m.

“It’s huge for them to have that reward and opportunity to go for a medal,” Knowles says. “I’ve had athletes that have never skied, but by the end (of training and the State Games) they come out with a medal.

“And even if they don’t medal,” Knowles adds, “they still feel great.”

—Reporter: 541-383-0305; beastes@bendbulletin.com.