Rhode Island Special Olympics Winter Games 2018
By: Meaghan Almon
February 5, 2018

Yawgoo Ski Area has hosted the Rhode Island Special Olympics Ski Program for over 30 years. This past weekend on Saturday February 3rd , was the annual Rhode Island Special Olympic State Winter Games. This year there were 24 athletes in Alpine Skiing, 8 in Snowboarding, 18 in snowshoeing and 2 in Cross Country Skiing.

I was a volunteer coach for the second winters with the ski and snowboarders. Every Tuesday night in January we would have practice at Yawgoo Ski Area. The athletes range in ability from beginners to advanced skiers and snowboarders. The goal of Tuesday night practice was to get the athletes ready for the state winter games by practicing running gates or practicing time trials. Depending on the athlete’s ability level they will compete in either a down hill course or a straight away time trial.

RISO athletes epitomize what sportsmanship is all about. They cheer on every single athlete and truly want each other to succeed. I don’t know who is happier, the gold medal winner or all the other athletes cheering for him or her.

The top athletes from the RISO state winter games will earn the right to participate in the Special Olympics NH State Winter Games at Waterville Valley the first weekend in March. There are usually about 18 athletes, coaches and chaperones who attend these Games each year.

Special Olympics has World Winter Games every four years. Over the course of the RISO ski program’s 30 year history they have sent 10-12 athletes to the World Winter Games. Last year athletes Chris Lussier and Amy Henrich went to the Games in Austria. Four years ago, Ian Shepherd and Mary Irons competed at the Games in South Korea.

I had a wonderful time working with all the athletes and watching them improve each week out on the mountain. Volunteering for RISO is truly a great experience and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is interested.

I am going to leave you with the Special Olympics Oath.

Let me Win.
But if I cannot win,
Let me be Brave
in the attempt.

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