Special Olympics Winter Games start Sunday at Copper Mountain | PostIndependent.com

Special Olympics Winter Games start Sunday at Copper Mountain

Larisa Graham
Summit County Correspondent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

COPPER MOUNTAIN ” This weekend, K.C. Farmer will be skiing in her eighth Special Olympics Colorado Winter Games while her mother, Sharon Farmer, coaches her to the finish line. The alpine skier, along with her six Summit County teammates will all be competing Sunday and Monday in the 30th annual Special Olympics Colorado Winter Games at Copper Mountain Resort. The team recently competed at the area competition at Ski Cooper on Feb. 1. They have also been training at Copper Mountain every Saturday with head coach Sharon Farmer.

“They set up a coarse for us and we practice gates, rules and turns. Copper is so awesome with helping everyone out,” Farmer said.

More than 400 Special Olympics Colorado athletes will be competing in alpine skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

“They just love this event; they have a ball and it gives them something to look forward to,” said Farmer. “You’ll never be around a better group of people than these athletes, coaches, families and volunteers.”

This will mark the 20th consecutive year that Copper has played host to the games. Copper is also the official training site for all Colorado-based Special Olympic athletes.

“Many of our alpine athletes have been going up to Copper to train on the weekends for the past eight weeks,” said Terri Takata-Smith, communications manager for Special Olympics Colorado.

Special Olympics Colorado is divided into seven areas within the state. Depending on how many athletes are in an area, determines how many competitors they are able to send to the winter games each year.

“Many areas will rotate, if one team was able to go last year, then the coaches will decide to send a different team this year, to keep it fair,” said Takata-Smith.

The event to watch this year will be snowshoeing. Each athlete who wins a gold medal in the snowshoe event will be eligible to participate in the World Special Olympic Winter Games which take place next year in Boise, Idaho. The athletes who win gold medals and want to participate will then be placed in a random drawing to determine who will get a spot in the World Winter Games, which takes place every four years.

“The largest misconception I think people have is that Special Olympics Colorado is a once a year event,” said Takata-Smith. “We actually hold four statewide competitions and several smaller, area competitions.” Athletes, volunteers and families come from all over the state to watch and compete in this prestigious event.

“It’s amazing. They’re all excited to be here, to compete and there is so much camaraderie,” said Takata-Smith.

During the games, Copper will have collection spots located throughout the resort for donations going toward Special Olympics Colorado. All donations will remain within the state.

Larisa Graham can be reached at (970) 668-4617, or at lgraham@summitdaily.com

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