WILMINGTON -Members of the Special Olympics Team USA visited Lake Placid last week from Tuesday to Thursday for a training session for the upcoming Special Olympics World Winter Games in South Korea.
The training camp is the one time that all the members will be together prior to the games, which start Jan. 29 and end Feb. 5.
Special Olympics Team USA is comprised of 151 athletes, 44 coaches, four medical personnel, and management team members from across the United States.
Members of the Special Olympics Team USA take a break during a Dec. 12 training session at Whiteface Mountain.
(Enterprise photo — Mike Lynch)
The camp offered a variety of team-building activities and sport-specific training in alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, speedskating, figure skating, floor hockey and floor ball demonstration - all held at facilities used during the 1980 Olympics Winter Games and current national and international competitions. The Olympic Training Center and Whiteface Mountain Ski Center were primarily utilized for training.
"I love snowboarding and this has been my dream ever since I was 8 years old, to be in the World Games," snowboarder Daina Shilts said. "I'm very happy and very happy to be representing Wisconsin, United States."
Alpine skiing sports manager George Srour said the World Games are extremely important to these athletes.
"Special Olympics has over two million athletes worldwide and the World Games are literally a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," he said.
The 10th Special Olympics World Winter Games will bring nearly 3,300 athletes from 112 countries together in PyeongChang and Gangneung, Korea, the same site where the 2018 Winter Olympics will be held. More than 15,000 family, friends, volunteers and spectators are also expected to attend.
Athletes will compete in seven Olympic-type sports: alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, short track speedskating, figure skating, floor hockey and the demonstration sport of floor ball.
Shilts raved about her experience last week at Whiteface.
"It has been awesome," Shilts said. "The coaches and trainers here are awesome. My experience has been more than I expected. I am having the time of my life."