Special Olympics skiing and snowboarding teams prepare for 2020 Winter Games

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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – Special Olympics Michigan Area 36 is hosting the 2020 Winter Games on Saturday, January 11.

The competition will feature athletes in snowshoeing, cross country skiing, down hill skiing and snowboarding.

Local 3 caught up with the skiing and snowboarding team as they prepare for the big games.

“Skiing has been a big part of my life ever since I was little and teaching anyone who wants to ski pretty cool,” said Pam Kurtz, Skiing Coach. “I think anyone that wants to should be able to come out here and do it.”

Whether it’s gate work or hitting the bunny hill, Kurtz says she works with athletes of all levels.

“We do have one athlete that is visually impaired and that is really cool just to teach him how to ski and now he’s riding the chairlift and going down the big hill and it’s pretty amazing,” said Kurtz.

“We can practice on getting on the chair lifts safely,” said Dale Kolpack, Special Olympics athlete. “Getting on the chair lift, doing the runs safely, only going fast as you wish or can and if I can tell somebody advice, I would say relax if you’re going to fall.”

Even though you compete by yourself, you’re still working as a team in Special Olympics.

“Being a part of the team of Area 36 was part of an amazing… good sportsmanship,” said Brody Merrick, Special Olympics athlete.

While they are preparing for the Winter Games this weekend, some of these athletes are also getting ready to compete at the state competing near Traverse City in February.

“You just get to have fun,” said Sam Bradbury, Special Olympics athlete. “It feels very good. A lot of hard work pays off.”

They say there’s something you can do to make these winter games, even more special.

“Everyone should come check it out because it’s inspirational, it’s a good time,” said Kurtz “Come cheer, we need more support.”

The public is welcome to watch the opening ceremonies of the 2020 U.P. Winter Games at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday at Rippling Riving Resort, followed by the competition the resort and at Marquette Mountain.

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